Most Common Infections in the Elderly: Prevention and Treatment

Most Common Infections in the Elderly: Prevention and Treatment

Anyone can get sick and acquire infections like UTI and pneumonia. But elderly adults over age 65 are at a higher risk of infections due to their plummeting health conditions. Early detection is crucial to reduce the risk of more severe diseases, and even death. If you have an elderly family member, make sure that you are aware of the most common infections in the elderly. Here’s how you can prevent and treat them.

Urinary Tract Infections

A Urinary tract infection, or a UTI, is a common infection that affects people of all ages, but especially older women. Its symptoms are usually overlooked, leading to misdiagnosis. Elderly adults who use catheters and those with diabetes are more at risk of acquiring UTI. Its symptoms include sudden behavior changes like confusion and urinary incontinence.

Preventing Methods

Drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day can help prevent UTI. Proper hygiene is also essential; if the person is incontinent, the caregiver should be sure to change into fresh disposable diapers every 2 hours and wipe from front to back. Avoid alcoholic drinks and caffeine. See to it that the person goes to the bathroom when he or she needs to.


Upon seeing symptoms, check with the doctor at once for immediate diagnosis. UTI can be cured through antibiotics. Aside from that, staying hydrated and practicing good hygiene can help the healing process.

Skin Infections

Aging skin takes longer to heal, making it more difficult to fight infection and resist disease. Even small wounds take time to heal, and may turn into complications when not treated immediately. Common skin infections in older people include fungal foot infections, cellulitis, and viral infections like shingles.

What to Do To Avoid Skin Infections

Take care of the elder’s skin by regular hand washing and proper cleaning by using disinfecting wipes. Be mindful of itching and lesions, which may result in discomfort or pain. Address wounds and cuts at once to prevent it from developing into bigger wounds.

Handling Skin Infections

Apart from good hygiene, skin infections can be treated using antiseptics, dressings, topical creams, and systematic antibacterials. Treatment varies depending on the type of infection and the doctor’s diagnosis.


Seniors are at a very high-risk of developing gastrointestinal infections due to changes in their digestion. Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori is a common infection with symptoms that include fever, nausea, and upper abdominal pain. When left untreated for a long time, it may result in long-term illnesses such as gastritis. Another gastrointestinal infection that is common in seniors is Clostridium difficile, or C-diff. This causes diarrhea as a result of prolonged antibiotic treatment, which kills healthy microbes of the intestines.

Preventing Methods

High level disinfection is the best way to prevent gastrointestinal infections. Regular and proper handwashing is also very important, to make sure that you cannot pass harmful bacteria to your body while eating.

How to Treat Gastrointestinal Infections

Unlike other conditions, gastrointestinal infection is not treated using antibiotics, since this will either worsen or prolong the condition. Instead, self-care measures, such as including staying hydrated and consuming certain foods, are recommended. Over-the-counter medicines can also help to treat the abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea, and can neutralize stomach acids.

Pneumonia and Influenza

Both diseases are one of the main causes of death; that is why early detection is important. Weakened immunity and changes in lung capacity may lead to pneumonia and influenza in the elderly. Seniors who live in nursing homes are at a higher risk of this disease since influenza can be transmitted by sneezing and coughing. Severe complications of influenza may result in pneumonia, with symptoms that include colds, cough, chills, and fever.

Ways to Prevent Pneumonia and Influenza

Elders, especially nursing home residents, need to get a pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia. Annual flu vaccinations are also recommended to avoid influenza. Stay away from sick people and keep to a proper diet to prevent yourself from getting sick.

Dealing with Pneumonia and Influenza

To reduce symptoms, elderly people who are infected with either influenza or pneumonia will get an antiviral prescription from the doctor.

Temperature Can Affect Infection Rate

Studies indicate that climate and weather changes can affect the spread of certain infectious diseases. For instance, there is a higher incidence of pneumonia during winter and cold rainy seasons. Meanwhile, influenza virus thrives in cold temperatures, which is why winter is considered flu season. This indicates that the colder the temperature, the higher the chances of getting sick with pneumonia and influenza.

On a smaller scale, a room’s temperature may also affect the body’s health condition. When it is too hot or too cold, it may cause an individual to catch a cough or a cold. Hence, nursing homes are careful in monitoring the room temperature depending on the preference of the elder. Apart from impacting the patient’s comfort level, the temperature may also have an affect on his health conditions.

How to Avoid Infectious Diseases

All types of infection can be primarily prevented by increasing awareness and proper health education. Vaccination programs and the practice of proper hygiene can also help combat the spread of infections and disease, whatever is the temperature, climate and weather conditions.


By | 2020-07-08T13:55:17+00:00 January 31st, 2020|Caregiving, Guest Posts|Comments Off on Most Common Infections in the Elderly: Prevention and Treatment