Diagnosis, prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections in older people
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence & Practice    

Diagnosis, prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections in older people

Alison Bardsley Senior lecturer, adult nursing, Coventry University, West Midlands, England

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in older people, with the prevalence increasing with age in both sexes. UTI is a frequent reason for emergency admission to hospital. There are many conditions that contribute to older people being more at risk of UTI and the main preventive strategy is to avoid the use of indwelling urethral catheters. Where an indwelling catheter is inserted its continued use should be regularly reviewed and the catheter removed, especially if the reason for insertion is incontinence and the person becomes additionally incontinent of faeces.

Diagnosis of UTI can be complex because older people do not always exhibit the signs and symptoms commonly associated with UTI. Diagnosis can be further complicated by a person's inability to provide a comprehensive history and by difficulties obtaining an uncontaminated, ‘clean catch’ urine specimen. Antibiotic therapy should not be used routinely for people with asymptomatic bacteriuria and, where antibiotics are required, healthcare professionals should follow local prescribing guidelines.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2017.e884



Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 11 October 2016

Accepted: 10 January 2017

Published online: 14 February 2017

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now