Understanding the Infectious Disease Care Process

A disease is considered an infectious disease if it meets a few specific criteria. First, it must be caused by living organisms, like viruses or bacteria. Second, it must be a contagious disease that is passed from person to person through insect bites, bodily secretions or other means. Even before the COVID-19 global pandemic, infectious diseases accounted for one-third of deaths in US among people 65 years old and older.

For all caregivers and family members with elderly loved ones, it is important to receive education on early detection. Typical signs of illness, such as fever, frequently do not occur in seniors. Often, a change in mental status or a decline in functioning may be the best way to understand an infection is present.

When a senior is under the care of a community like Lakeland Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Effingham, Ill., family members can rest assured that all potential signs and symptoms are being closely monitored. For seniors handling their health on their own, or for caregivers, you may be wondering, ‘what is infectious disease control?’

What is Infectious Disease Control?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), changes to elderly adults due to disease are subtle and non-specific complaints may be the only indication that the person does not feel right. In fact, the AAFP states that delirium is the main symptom of disease in 50 percent of older adults. The most common infectious diseases among seniors include:

  • Influenza
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Skin infections, such as staph infections
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Most of the infectious diseases common among seniors, like the ones listed above, are preventable. While suppressed immune systems and skin deterioration that allows for the easier entrance of pathogens can both cause elderly adults to be more susceptible, infectious disease control efforts can make a positive difference. Examples of these efforts include:

  • Taking the vaccine for the flu, bacterial pneumonia and shingles. The most recent data shows that the bacterial pneumonia vaccine can reduce the risk of death from pneumonia by as much as 80 percent.
  • Prevent UTIs by limiting the use of urinary catheters and utilizing available therapies to support you if you are suffering with prostate issues.
  • Practice good infection control and hand washing.

What are the Five Steps in the Infectious Disease Process?

Infection occurs when the body is invaded by an organism, like a bacterium or a virus. Once the infection is present, there are five steps in the infectious disease process. These steps are:


This first stage covers the time from when the person is exposed until the onset of symptoms.


The second stage refers to the time after incubation and before the infection can be identified by specific characteristics. Patients in this stage often exhibit fatigue or low-grade fevers.


The third of the five steps in the infectious disease process covers the time when a person has apparent symptoms of an infectious disease. Symptoms vary based on what disease is present and the duration of the infection often depends on the person’s health prior to the illness.


In the decline stage, the body’s immune system mounts a defense against the attacking pathogens and symptoms gradually improve. It is still possible to spread the virus to other people during this stage and secondary infections are possible if the patient has a weakened immune system.


The final stage of the five steps in the infectious disease process covers the period of time when symptoms begin to resolve and the patient can return to normal functions. As an elderly loved one goes through these steps, it is important that he or she is surrounded by the support and medical expertise needed to give the patient the best opportunity for a positive outcome.

Planning for a Safe Future

After a major surgery, a prolonged illness or a major medical event, the body is especially susceptible to an infectious disease. These are all situations where many families in the Effingham, Ill. area choose to bring their loved ones to recover at Lakeland Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. Lakeland is unique in our ability to offer personalized care plans that mitigate risk and maximize recovery opportunities for our residents. Contact us today to learn more about our medical care, our amenities and our on-site therapy support team.