Infections are very common in nursing homes and are a major cause of disease and mortality among those elderly individuals living in these types of homes. There are many reasons why infections occur at a high rate in these facilities:
- Many of the staff at these facilities has had inadequate training and don’t totally understand the principles to control infections;
- Residents are sometimes crammed in confined and small living arrangements, with many daily activities often taking place in groups. Some residents are cognitively impaired and unable to follow basic hygiene precautions, which breeds infection.
- Many residents in these facilities are in them because they are diseased. A person with disease is much more susceptible to infection. It is also much more difficult to diagnose disorders / infections in the elderly so treatment may be delayed.
The most prevalent infections in Nursing Home and Skilled Nursing Facilities are: Pneumonia, Urinary Tract Infections, Scabies, Staph, and Sepsis among others.
Pneumonia is a respiratory infection of the lungs. Pneumonia is a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. Germs called bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the main causes pneumonia. It is said that over 60% of all respiratory illnesses are Pneumonia.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Urinary Tract Infections are infections that can happen anywhere along the urinary tract. Urinary tract infections are the most common in nursing home facilities. Around ¼ to ½ of all patients living in these facilities will have Urinary Tract Infections, even though many patients remain asymptomatic.
Scabies, a skin disease is also very prevalent in nursing homes. Scabies is a contagious and infectious skin disease that is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, also know as the itch mite. Due to their weakened immune systems, Elderly people are more susceptible to scabies than the general population. Outbreaks of scabies are usually reported to happen in hostels, hospital, nursing homes and other places where elderly people reside. If not treated properly, scabies can lead to more infections and death.
Sepsis is a severe infection where the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria. This, of course, is more deadly in the elderly due to their weakened immune systems. As sepsis progresses, it begins to affect organ function and eventually can lead to septic shock, a sometimes fatal drop in blood pressure. Symptoms of sepsis included but are not limited to:
- Fever above 101.3° or below 95°
- Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute
- Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute.
With proper and early treatment people are able to recover from sepsis. With proper care, hygiene and better-trained nurses and nursing assistants, Staph infections in nursing homes can also be better monitored and over time their prevalence shall drop.
Did You or a Loved One Experience a Debilitating or Fatal Nursing Home Infection?
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