Connie was sitting with her 84-year-old father, Marshall, watching television when he began complaining of sharp pains in his back and side. When she asked him about it, he said he thought he might have a urinary tract infection because he had been going to the bathroom more frequently. Connie took him to the doctor where Marshall was told he had kidney stones.
General Information About Kidney Stones
If your aging relative is diagnosed with kidney stones, the doctor may call the condition renal lithiasis or nephrolithiasis. Those are the medical terms for the pebble-like deposits that can form in one or both of the kidneys. They’re comprised of minerals and salts that gather together to make the stones. There are several different things that can cause kidney stones, including having concentrated urine, such as when a person is dehydrated. The size of the stones can vary from very small to as big as a golf ball. The surface of the stone can be smooth or jagged.
Passing a kidney stone can hurt a lot, but they aren’t usually the cause of any serious damage. Depending on the location of the kidney stone and its size, the treatment may be simply taking pain relievers and drinking lots of water until the body is able to pass them. However, in some instances, surgery may be necessary.
Kidney Stone Symptoms
Until a kidney stone moves, it usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. However, once it moves in the kidney or enters the ureter, it can cause symptoms including:
- Severe pain that occurs below the ribs in the back and side.
- Radiating pain that affects the abdomen and groin.
- Pain that comes and goes and may change in intensity.
- Painful urination.
- Urine that is pink, brown, or red.
- Urine that appears cloudy or smells bad.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Feeling the need to urinate often.
- Urinating only in small amounts.
- Fever and chills in cases where there is infection.
It’s important to know that the pain caused by a kidney stone can change as the stone moves. Its location can change or get better or worse. If your aging relative has symptoms that are worrying, make an appointment with the doctor. If they experience severe pain, have trouble urinating, or have a fever and chills, they should receive immediate medical attention.
If your aging relative has a kidney stone, senior care can help them regardless of whether they need surgery or not. If they do not need surgery, a senior care provider can make sure they drink extra water by bringing it to them throughout the day and monitoring how much they drink. Senior care can also remind them to take pain killers as needed. If the older adult has surgery, a senior care provider can help them at home while they recover, keeping an eye on them when you cannot be there yourself.