How to Prevent UTIs in the Elderly

senior man UTI loss of appetite

Urinary tract infections are more common in the elderly, mainly because they are vulnerable to different causes of UTIs. Studies show that UTIs are a significant problem among the elderly, especially nursing home residents. 

Some common symptoms you may experience include; a burning sensation when urinating, a need to constantly urinate, and cloudy urine. These symptoms can be a giveaway that something is not right. 

In most cases, UTIs can be prevented and treated with a more natural approach. In this post, we’ll look at how to prevent UTIs in the elderly to help keep them safe and healthy. 

What Causes UTIs in the Elderly?

As we age, our detrusor and pelvic muscles tend to weaken and result in urine retention or incontinence. When this happens, we become more vulnerable to bacteria forming in the urinary tract resulting in infections.

Treatment for UTIs is often antibiotics and antimicrobial prescriptions. However, turning to these prescriptions can be harmful. In addition, the constant use of these drugs may result in the development of multidrug-resistant organisms. 

Therefore, turning to more natural treatment and prevention alternatives is essential. Staying vigilant and implementing strategies to reduce the risk of UTIs will help you stay healthy and avoid discomfort. 

How to Prevent UTIs in the Elderly

Preventing UTIs will require you to implement some daily practices and tips that will help keep you healthy. Here are some of the best tips for preventing UTIs in elderly adults.

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Always wipe front to back
  • Urinate when the need arises
  • Avoid scented products
  • Change adult diapers regularly
  • Take probiotics

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Drinking a lot of fluids is a great way to reduce the risk of developing UTIs. Liquids will fill your bladder faster and trigger you to keep urinating regularly. When you urinate, you flush out the bacteria building up in your urinary tract. 

Water is the best and most recommended fluid to consume daily and regularly. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses daily. In addition, you could consider other liquid options like milk, sparkling water, fruit-infused water, and smoothies. 

Another great fluid that is believed to have a significant effect on preventing UTIs is cranberry juice. It is made from cranberries that feature proanthocyanidin compounds and vitamin C. 

These compounds help to prevent E.coli from forming in the urinary tract, while vitamin C increases your urine’s acidity to help get rid of harmful bacteria. Consume unsweetened cranberry juice or eat cranberries to help prevent UTIs with ease. 

Always Wipe Front to Back

When you go to the bathroom, it is advised that you get into the habit of wiping front to back. The main reason for this is to avoid introducing E.coli into the urethra. E.coli is a bacteria found in the rectum and can easily be transferred from the anus to the urethra.

Therefore, you need to be more careful when wiping to ensure that you do not develop an infection. Doing this is essential, especially when you have diarrhea. If you’re not thorough when wiping, its uncontrollable nature could easily introduce E.coli to the urethra. 

Expert Tip
“Make sure the client is drinking plenty of water throughout the day and also making sure the client is wiping properly and completely clean after going to the bathroom.” – Bunny Dachs, Owner of Bunny’s Home Care

Urinate When the Need Arises

When you need to pee, please do it. Do not get into the habit of holding your urine. As an elderly, this could have adverse effects on your bladder and introduce infections to your urinary tract.

Holding your urine causes strain to the detrusor muscles that help contract to release the pee when in the bathroom. Consistently holding your urine may weaken these muscles and result in more significant issues.

Additionally, holding your urine encourages bacterial growth that later transforms into an infection. Therefore, ensure that you pee when you need to and try to empty your bladder each time. 

Avoid Scented Products

It always feels great to smell nice, but try your best to stay natural when it comes to your private parts. Wash with water and avoid using scented soaps, douches, and other irritants. 

Scented products tend to mess with the good bacteria in your private parts, leaving you exposed. You’ll be vulnerable to developing urinary tract infections when there is nothing to help fight off unwanted bacteria.

Therefore, embrace the natural resources and steer clear of feminine products that may leave you at risk. 

Change Adult Diapers Regularly

Elderlies are prone to incontinence as the bladder muscles weaken and require extra attention. Women’s adult incontinence diapers come in handy to help you stay clean, leak-free, and comfortable. 

However, they may also expose you to the risk of getting UTIs. The exposure mainly happens when the diaper stays on for too long without being changed. In addition to being uncomfortable, it becomes the perfect environment to encourage the growth of bacteria.

Therefore, check adult diapers regularly to ensure that you change them on time and replace them with a fresh pair. This will keep you fresh and comfortable and reduce the risk of getting a UTI.  

Take Probiotics

Probiotics are great for older adults for different reasons, including improved heart health and reduced frequency and duration of diarrhea. Off the bat, this makes them an essential part of your daily routine. 

In addition, they have an incredible impact on preventing urinary tract infections. This makes them a great natural option, especially for older adults. 

These probiotics help promote the growth of good bacteria in the urinary tract. So, you’ll be less prone to developing infections. This is because the good bacteria will help protect you from getting UTIs.

You can get probiotics for seniors in different ways to help boost your health and reduce the risk of UTIs. Some of the various probiotic sources include;

  • Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and tempeh
  • Natural foods like garlic, leeks, onions, green bananas, and dried beans
  • Dietary supplements, especially the Lactobacilli strains
  • Probiotic suppositories
Expert Tip
“As we age, UTIs can become more common. They can be due to the bladder not being able to fully empty, the use of adult diapers, or other underlying problems. Some easy steps to try to prevent UTIs are:

•Drinking plenty of water

•Urinate as soon as you feel the urge and try to void the bladder completely

•Cranberry and vitamin C make urine less attractive to bacteria. These may be good supplements if allowed by your doctor

•Check adult diapers every few hours”

– Shaili Gandhi, Pharm.D., Vice President of Pharmacy at SingleCare

However, like any other additions and tweaks to your diet and medication or supplements, ensure to consult your doctor. Older adults need to do this to ensure that what they’ll be adding doesn’t negatively interact with their medication. 

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