If your loved one resides in a nursing home, you worry about the level of care this person receives. A primary concern is exposure to infections.
Today, conservative estimates are that nursing home residents across the nation face the potential for one to three million serious infections annually. Here are four of the most common infections.
1. Urinary tract infections
The infection most often reported is the urinary tract infection (UTI). Patients with catheters are most at risk. However, the issues of age-related organ function changes combined with limited mobility can result in UTI. Even more troubling is that half of the bloodstream infections in nursing homes have a link to a urinary tract infection. UTI bacteria that spread from the bloodstream to the entire body can cause death.
Pneumonia is the major cause of hospitalization and death for nursing home residents. The common pathogen is pneumococcus and patients with feeding tubes are most at risk for infection. However, symptoms of pneumonia are not always easy for elderly patients to identify. A chest x-ray can confirm pneumonia, but not every nursing home has access to such equipment.
Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) cause an unusually high number of deaths in patients aged 65 and older. Antibiotics to treat infections such as UTI also kill much of the bacteria in the intestinal tract, giving CDI the ability to thrive.
The infection that is a leading cause of death in the nursing home environment is influenza. It is also among the most preventable infections. Patients are at risk due to their proximity to other patients and their interaction with visitors and staff. Disinfection of common areas is vital—and so is an annual flu shot for your beloved nursing home resident.