UTIs a Sign of Elder Neglect and Abuse

zi8-e3qj_rm-cristian-newman-300x199Urinary tract infections can pose a serious threat to the health of an elderly individual. While both men and women may get a UTI once or a few times throughout their lives, this infection should be caught as early as possible and treated right away. Without prompt and appropriate care, individuals suffering from UTIs can go on to have more complex and harmful complications, such as acute or chronic kidney infection, permanent kidney damage, urethral narrowing, and sepsis, according to Mayo Clinic. In elderly individuals, these complications are not only painful, they can result in early death.

The Elderly are at Risk for UTIs

Unfortunately, many elderly individuals are at a high risk of UTIs because of negligent care and abuse at nursing homes. UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and bladder through the urethra. While our bodies are meant to be able to combat dangerous bacteria, sometimes this is not possible due to medical conditions, prescription drugs, and other factors.

Harmful bacteria are more likely to affect elderly patients when they are not being properly cared for or abused. Lack of proper bathing, improper catheter use, dehydration due to a lack of liquids, and untreated or poorly treated diabetes, kidney stones, and enlarged prostates all increase an elderly person’s risk of an UTI. Additionally, elderly women who are sexually abused are put at risk for UTIs.

If you have a loved one living in a nursing home who is currently suffering from a UTI or has had multiple infections in the past, look deeper into their care. Inquire as to how often and how they are bathed. Ask about catheter use procedures, including whether your loved one gets a new, sterile catheter every time or whether the instruments are reused.

Signs of a UTI

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be aware of the symptoms of a UTI so that you can spot the problem quickly and get your relative proper medical care before it becomes something worse. The most common signs of a UTI include:

  • A burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination and the urge to urinate
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Chills

However, many elderly people do not exhibit these classic signs or cannot recognize them. You need to be aware of how a UTI may look in an older patient and one who has reduced executive functioning or a poor memory. These signs can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased mobility
  • Agitation
  • Urinary retention
  • Incontinence
  • Fever
  • Flushed skin

If you believe your loved one is showing signs of a UTI or complaining of these common and less-common symptoms, speak with a physician immediately. Determining if our relative has a UTI is not a difficult process. Within minutes, the physician can know whether your loved one has a UTI and can prescribe an antibiotic.

Has Your Loved One Had Multiple UTIs at a Nursing Home?

If your relative has experienced multiple UTIs at a nursing home, something is going on. Either a physician needs to conduct a more thorough exam and analysis as to what is causing the infections, or you need to determine if your loved one is being abused or neglected.

To learn more about your options and your loved one’s rights after being abused or neglected, contact a San Francisco elder abuse attorney at Brod Law Firm today.

(image courtesy of Christian Newman)