As you’re caring for older family members, you may start to become familiar with cues relating to their health. For example, if your relative is diabetic, you may begin to see signs that sugar levels are off. If they have dementia, you learn how to keep them calm and avoid triggers that may create distress.

One common ailment in seniors is a urinary tract infection (UTI). While many seniors are affected by UTIs, they often go undetected until further problems arise. This is particularly true in seniors with cognitive impairment, as they may not be able to adequately voice their symptoms. Furthermore, not all symptoms of a UTI have an obvious connection to one’s urethra or bladder. Here’s how to recognize a urinary tract infection in an elderly family member and avoid complications.

Signs and symptoms

Even if you’ve had a UTI yourself, the symptoms can be hard to spot in someone else – particularly if they’re older. Here’s what an older person may notice when they have a UTI:

  • Burning during urination (which becomes more frequent and urgent)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Urine with an unpleasant odour
  • Urinary retention (the feeling of not being able to fully empty your bladder, even immediately after using the washroom)

Sometimes, these physical signals go unnoticed or unreported, making the infection harder to detect. Here are behavioural symptoms of a UTI you might observe in your family member:

  • Lethargy and/or confusion
  • Agitation (increased or out of character)
  • Increased imbalance or falls
  • Decreased mobility and appetite

If the UTI spreads to one’s kidneys, additional symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, flushed skin and back pain.

Need support? Our PSWs can help.

Our PSWs are familiar with medical issues in seniors and will often notice the signs of a UTI before family members do – many times, even before the senior realizes there is a problem. We recently had a situation wherein one of our PSWs was insistent that their client demonstrated symptoms of a UTI, but the doctor disagreed. A urine test was given and sure enough, the client had an undetected UTI. We were so glad to be able to help alleviate the ailment before it got worse!

If you’d like to speak to our team about PSW services to support your aging family members, please give us a call – we’d be happy to help.