Elderly Patients and Sepsis: A National Crisis

elderly with septic wound

Sepsis is a dangerous affliction that can cause already-horrible infections to become much more dangerous. Due to how quickly sepsis can spread, and become complicated, elderly patients are at much higher risk of death and long-term disability when they contract sepsis. In nursing homes, elderly patients must be kept safe from sepsis. 

Understanding the Basics of Sepsis

Sepsis is a manifestation of your body’s severe reaction to an existing infection, and nursing home patients are at much higher risk of this damaging, unfortunate affliction. Even while younger people and even children are also at risk for sepsis, elderly adults are more susceptible to it. 

Sepsis often surprises patients with the diagnosis. They didn’t believe their sickness was serious enough to warrant concern. Or perhaps they believed they were properly treating the infection. Any infection you already have can cause sepsis. It can be in your intestines, skin, lungs, urinary tract, or other areas. 

The initial infection could appear mild, but if sepsis sets in, it needs to be identified right away. Sepsis is a serious condition that can quickly result in organ failure, tissue damage, and death. The more educated you are about the facts of sepsis and its impact on the elderly, and how it affects the elderly, the more protected our nation’s elderly nursing home patients will become. 

Why are the Elderly at a Higher Risk of Contracting Sepsis?

Sepsis can result from almost any infection, but older persons are more susceptible and therefore have to be more aware of risks. Similarly, all nursing home staff need to be educated about sepsis to ensure the safety and health of their residents. This might be caused by a compromised immune system. 

Chronic medical issues such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease are common in older persons. For instance, ulcers and wounds that heal slowly and are prone to infection can appear on diabetics. Instances, where older persons are more at risk for sepsis, include those that result from the insertion of medical devices including catheters, feeding tubes, and IVs. 

Sepsis is more dangerous for older persons. Also, elderly folks frequently visit clinics and medical offices. As with any surgery, regardless of how minor, frequent visits to healthcare facilities increase the likelihood of coming into touch with infectious viruses and germs.

Alongside these facts, it’s crucial to understand that sepsis is much more deadly in elderly patients as well. Death rates are more than fifty-percent higher in elderly sepsis patients, and the affliction spreads more rapidly in the elderly. 

Additionally, adults with sepsis (especially the elderly) are often misdiagnosed. Getting a proper diagnosis, and fighting the infection aggressively, will help cure sepsis. 

Knowing the Signs of Sepsis

If you’re able to spot sepsis early on, you can help your elderly loved one recover at a much faster rate. Sepsis does not have a single symptom associated with it, so doctors and nursing home staff have to be vigilant when diagnosing elderly patients dealing with infections. 

Combinations of confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat, a fever, shivering or feeling extremely cold, hypothermia, severe pain or discomfort, swelling, and clammy or sweaty skin should all be sought out during the diagnosis process (as these are the major signs of sepsis). 

If you encounter someone exhibiting several of these signs, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. Tell the medical staff right away if you think you may have sepsis. Do not let the medical staff, nurses, or your loved one disregard your worries. Demand that your loved one receives proper care and that a sepsis test be done right away by the medical team. 

A person with sepsis has an 8% greater chance of dying for every hour they are left untreated. If your loved one is an older adult, medical testing for sepsis must start straight away. Sepsis is more common in older people, therefore it can be more challenging to diagnose them. Staying calm during this hectic scenario is key, however. 

Tips for Preventing Sepsis

Elderly patients need vaccines for many reasons, including the prevention of sepsis. Staying vaccinated will help you prevent sepsis. The more up-to-date you are with your vaccinations, the better. Elderly patients are less likely to be afflicted with serious infections if they have relevant vaccinations. 

Fighting infections before they spread can be key in preventing sepsis as well. Antibiotics are also incredibly useful in preventing sepsis. Elderly patients in nursing homes are often on a strict regimen of antibiotics. These antibiotics help target potential infections before they spread, helping to prevent sepsis as a result.