According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a third of all fatalities among adults 65 and older are related to infectious diseases. Infections also have the potential to contribute to hospitalizations and an assortment of related health issues. For caregivers, it’s important to know what kind of infections are most common in the elderly, especially since some infections can produce non-specific symptoms, such as loss of appetite, that may be overlooked or mistaken for something else. Below are five of the more common infections that tend to affect older adults along with some details about each one.
1. Bacterial Pneumonia
It’s estimated that 60 percent of older adults are hospitalized each year due to pneumonia. A reduction in lung capacity, age-related immune system changes, and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes are just some of the reasons pneumonia is a type of infection more common in the elderly. However, seniors are more likely to exhibit symptoms that may include confusion or delirium rather than classic pneumonia symptoms such as fits of coughing or fever. The risk of this type of infection can be reduced by:
• Staying current with pneumonia vaccinations
• Regularly washing hands and keeping commonly touched surfaces clean
• Avoiding habits like smoking that can affect lung capacity
2. Gastrointestinal Infections
Age-related digestive system changes increase seniors’ risk of developing gastrointestinal infections. There are many possible types of infections of this nature, with one of the most common ones being clostridium difficile, which contributes to diarrhea. Antibiotics are often used for treatment. Eating yogurt, whole grains, and other digestion-friendly foods is one way seniors can minimize their gastrointestinal infection risk.
If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of Bethlehem senior home care. Our caregivers provide transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping.
3. Skin Infections
Bacterial or fungal foot infections and viral infections such as herpes zoster (shingles) are among the more common skin infections that tend to be prevalent in the elderly. This is more likely to be the case if underlying health issues such as diabetes are present. Unusual itching, pain, and visible changes in the skin’s appearance are symptoms often associated with skin infections. Some skin infections, such as shingles, are preventable with a simple vaccine. Good hygiene can be helpful as well.
If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care. Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
According to the CDC, seasonal influenza ranks as one of the most common and serious health issues affecting the older population. The risk of developing complications related to the flu increases for seniors with compromised immune systems or underlying chronic health issues. While chills, cough, and fever are characteristic flu symptoms, some seniors also experience general weakness, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Annual flu vaccinations can reduce the risk of developing this type of infection for many older adults.
5. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
UTIs are the most commonly diagnosed type of infection in older adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Older adults who use catheters and seniors with diabetes that’s not managed well are especially susceptible to developing urinary tract infections. UTIs in seniors are more likely to include symptoms such as changes in behavior, frequent urination, and a low-grade fever rather than pain. Treatment and prevention typically involves:
• Getting a urinalysis and other tests if a UTI is suspected
• Taking antibiotics if an infection is detected
• Drinking plenty of water
• Managing diabetes and other chronic health conditions
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Practicing good bathroom hygiene
Some seniors only require help with a few daily tasks so they can maintain their independence. However, those living with serious illnesses may need more extensive assistance. Luckily, there is professional live-in care Bethlehem, PA, seniors can rely on. Home can be a safer and more comfortable place for your loved one to live with the help of an expertly trained and dedicated live-in caregiver. Rely on the professionals at Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate care for your loved one. Give us a call today at 484-350-3874 to learn about our flexible in-home care plans.