Advocates For Vulnerable Residents

Wade Yeoman and Corey Ann Finn
  1. Home
  2.  | 
  3. Medical Malpractice
  4.  | What is sepsis and how does it affect the elderly?

What is sepsis and how does it affect the elderly?

Sepsis is a severe condition that can lead to hospitalization and death. Patients with sepsis require significant medical interventions.

Although anyone can get sepsis, the elderly population is at a higher risk than other demographics for contracting the disease.

Diagnosing sepsis

Sepsis is diagnosed when a patient has an inflammatory response to an infection in the body. This response can cause severe illness in patients. Sepsis can also lead to septic shock. In these severe forms, sepsis results in a loss of blood flow to organs and tissues, causing tissue death and organ failure. As this process continues, the patient’s risk for death increases.

Risks for the elderly

Elderly patients with sepsis face a high mortality rate and have many risk factors for contracting the disease. One issue is lack of functioning or mobility. Most people slow down in activity when they age. Older persons also experience cognitive decline, muscle loss, and hormonal and metabolism changes. All these changes make it more difficult for an older person to fight off an infection.

Other risks associated with elderly patients are more co-morbidities and prescription medications that may make it harder for the body to overcome an illness. Older adults are also more likely to have nutrition issues, endocrine disorders and exposure to drug-resistant organisms found in congregate settings.

Sepsis is also harder to diagnose in older patients as the immune response of elderly persons is not as evident as in other populations. Sometimes, the inflammation is not apparent until the disease has progressed to a more severe stage.

Elderly persons should maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle to combat sepsis and other illness.