Last Updated on October 5, 2021 by Ian Evans
Infections and diseases are common health problems in seniors. About 60% of the elderly in the US have been victims of the most common infections in seniors. These infections tend to impact the health of all these seniors. Also, they have been the cause of vital death amongst the elderly population.
Seniors are prone to infections and diseases because they tend to be weak. As you age, the antibodies present inside your body start to get weaker. Thus, they lose the ability to function, putting all our seniors at health risk. It does not matter whether a senior has the facilities needed to cope with these infections. They are still susceptible to them.
Why Are Infections More Common in the Elderly?
There are many kinds of infections that seniors are susceptible to. They range from minute diseases to some of the most major ones. It doesn’t matter what the age is. If you are above 50 years old, then there is a chance you might be affected by these. Each disease impacts the adult in its capacity.
From simple flu to major diseases, the infection can be very dangerous too. The severity of the infection largely depends on how it has changed. Whether the individual being infected by such has the capacity to deal with them or not.
What Are Most Common Infections in Seniors?
There is a long list of diseases that take place. The most common kinds are as follows:
Influenzas are not such a significant problem. But it is one of the most common forms of disease-infected in adults. It does not matter whether you are in a cold climate or a warm one. We do see many adults suffering from it.
Influenzas can range from a bad fever to simple flu. They can impact the nostrils and the throat of the adult. They can even be ongoing or recurring after every few days. It is noted that adults who live in much colder climates are prone to suffering from a continuous cycle of cold. A change in weather can also result in the patient suffering from constant cold. Influenzas can be treated at home.
If your grandparents or parents are old and suffering from influenza, then you should treat them. This can be done through hot drinks such as soups and tea. But, if the cold seems severe and doesn’t go away so soon, it is best to take them to a doctor. The doctors will prescribe antibiotics and other medicines to help them get better.
About 60% of seniors get affected by bacteria pneumonia. It is one of the most common causes of death in adults too. It can impact anyone who is above the age of 65. Seniors are at a greater risk for pneumonia for various reasons.
As you age, your lung capacity changes too. Your lungs start to get slower, and this could be one of the causes of bacterial pneumonia. The other reason why it is so common is because of the community setting. This makes everyone exposed to infections. It can particularly affect those suffering from conditions like cardiopulmonary disease or diabetes. The primary symptoms of bacterial pneumonia are as common as the ones found in the flu.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
These include frequent chills, feeling feverish, cough, and more frequent headaches. To treat the patient, doctors usually prescribe antibiotic treatment for bacterial pneumonia. Some types of pneumonia can be prevented using a pneumococcal vaccine.
This is highly recommended for nursing home residents, with constant exposure to people of the same age. Bacterial pneumonia can be transmitted from one patient to the other. That is why it is essential to take all the necessary precautions, so none of it happens.
A focus on the diet plan is needed in such circumstances to strengthen the immune system of the elderly.
Aging causes many changes in the skin. This leads to the weakening of its healing ability. As a result, the older you get, the more prone you are to various skin infections. What makes it worse is how none of the creams you buy from the market can benefit your skin anymore.
Some of the most common examples of skin infections include:
- foot infections
- cellulitis or drug-resistant infections
- viral infections such as herpes zoster
- Foot infections are most common in patients who have diabetes
The doctor prescribes both medicines and a tube-like cream to prevent them from happening. The foot infection leaves many marks on your feet and makes it look bad. These skin conditions can come from various sources, including:
- weakened immune system
- lack of mobility
- moisture, or
- human contact
Urinary tract Infections or the UTI
UTI is one of the most common forms of infection found in seniors. This type of infection is usually associated with bladder or urethra contamination. The bacteria that enter the urethra can spread to the kidneys. As you can imagine, this has become a much more dangerous problem. It has the ability to damage the patient’s kidneys completely.
Seniors who have diabetes or use a catheter are at a higher risk. Other causes include:
- an enlarged prostate
- an increase in vaginal pH
- not emptying the bladder properly
Symptoms of UTI
Some very common symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections are as follows:
- persistent desire
- to urinate
These symptoms are not always immediately evident in seniors. Instead, look out for confusion or increased dementia symptoms, and if any vomiting occurs, seek immediate help.
The correct treatment depends on the infection itself. Hence, a proper diagnosis is essential while ensuring the patient is properly hydrated. One way to prevent it is to make sure that the hygiene of your seniors is clean.
Make sure that the bathroom is well cleaned every day. It is also best to provide the elderly with a private bathroom instead of using a public one. Also, make sure that your elderly relative has access to clean drinking water and does so most of the time.
Various bacterial infections affect the stomach and small intestine. Still, Helicobacter pylori and Clostridium difficile are the most common ones. These outbreaks can be passed on from individual to individual. They are also introduced via means of undercooked food/contaminated water.
The risk of infection increases when traveling to foreign regions that contain viruses that their body is not accustomed to. The standard symptoms of gastrointestinal infections can be expected here and include:
- abdominal pain
This rapid loss of liquid means that you need to hydrate the patient while making a quick diagnosis. If other people also consumed the same meals, then it is safe to assume that this is a food-related outbreak. You can take it from there.
Two of the most common are:
Helicobacter pylori: This may cause fever, nausea, and upper abdominal pain. It can also lead to long-term illnesses such as gastritis.
Clostridium difficile: This is a common diarrhea-causing infection. It usually occurs due to antibiotic treatments that suppress healthy gastrointestinal flora.
You will have to go to the hospital and seek a doctor for this one.
Diseases such as these usually clear up on their own within a few days. But always speak to a medical professional to be safe. Use this threat as an excellent incentive to wash your hands before eating.
The best way to avoid these problems is to make sure that a healthy diet plan is followed. You must make sure that your patient is not eating oily food with a lot of spices. Try to make sure that your elderly have a diet with bland carbohydrates such as oatmeal and bread. Doctors often recommend a liquid diet for such patients. It is best to keep feeding them with soup and add vegetables to their diets.
What Factors Make the Elderly Susceptible to the Most common Infections?
The aging process makes them vulnerable. It impacts all areas of life and health. Once you cross a certain age, your body becomes less responsive to diseases. This makes one prone to diseases and infections much more. The body, in many cases, fails to fight or slows down. This indicates a fall in the immune system’s ability to stand against any viruses. This is troubling because it leads the patient to other such diseases.
Once you age, you even become accustomed to various kinds of diseases. Blood pressure and diabetes are some of the common health issues which elders face. The antibodies inside the body are already busy fighting against other health problems.
In most cases, these infections are only a side effect of these other diseases. But, they are also the drawback of the medicines taken to fight other health issues such as diabetes. With so much going on within the body, it becomes difficult even to heal as quickly as possible.
Research has shown that such diseases are common in seniors who live in large communal homes or old-age hostages. Over here, they do not have access to private bathrooms, and the hygiene conditions can be compromised.
What Can be Done to Prevent the Most Common Infections in Seniors?
To prevent these diseases from happening, building up a stronger immune system is a must. The food fed to the senior population should be rich with all kinds of essential nutrients.
The seniors should be vaccinated from time to time to make sure they remain healthy. Before prescribing any medicines, a doctor should consider the individual’s health history. They must warn families or consultants about any backdrops. Doing so will help patients prepare ways to prevent such.
It is also essential to focus on personal hygiene. The place where senior individuals are staying should be kept clean at all times. They should be disinfected regularly to make sure that they stay well. Creating a healthy environment is the key to make sure that the disease is prevented at all accounts.
To make sure that the senior is not suffering from these, it is best to look after their health. A focus on the diet and hygiene of senior citizens is essential. The housing authorities must focus on providing a healthy environment.
If you see your parents suffering from these most common infections in seniors, then see the doctor. The doctor will help you provide a diet plan and the appropriate form of medication that you must follow. It is usual for the body to weaken, but you must pay attention to their health needs.