Anyone can get an infection, but seniors and older adults are more vulnerable than most. It is also harder to accurately diagnose infections among this population. This is an important issue as over one-third of all mortalities in people over 65 result from infectious diseases. This is according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Below are some common infections to be aware of.
• Urinary tract infections (UTIs): These can happen to anyone, but they tend to be more common in older adults. Potential signs are urinary incontinence and dementia-like symptoms.
• Bacterial pneumonia: Seniors tend to have a greater risk of developing pneumonia. According to the AAFP, more than 60% of hospital admissions for people 65 and up are related to pneumonia. Typical symptoms such as chills, cough, and fever tend to be less frequent among seniors. Watch for non-respiratory symptoms such as delirium.
• Skin infections: The nature of aging skin leaves us more vulnerable to skin infections as we get older.
• Gastrointestinal infections in older adults.
• Influenza: Flu is a serious problem among older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 70-90 percent of flu-related mortalities have happened among adults 65 and older in the last few years. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for seniors.
It’s important to know what kinds of infections seniors are vulnerable to so that caregivers can be better empowered to combat them. Knowing what to watch for can also help older adults guide medical professionals to a proper diagnosis.