May 3, 2014

Can a UTI make you lose your memory?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause an elderly person to become confused, undernourished, dehydrated, depressed; and yes, cause severe memory loss. Urinary tract infections are common in dementia patients.

Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Can a Urinary Tract Infection make you lose your memory? | Alzheimer's Reading Room

Readers continue to come to the Alzheimer's Reading after using search terms like this one from Google,

can a uti make you lose your memory.

The answer to this question is yes,  a urinary tract infection can hasten memory loss in Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

The following articles are recommended for all Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers.

Urinary Tract Infections Can Hasten Memory Loss in Alzheimer's Patients

Sudden Change In Behavior? Urinary Tract Infection Could be the Cause

Can a urinary infection affect an older person's mental state?

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There are two sides to this equation. The Alzheimer's caregiver, and the person living with Alzheimer's.

Keep this in mind, if you allow an infection to "fester" in your loved one living with dementia, you the caregiver, are the one that could end up with the broken heart.

It will also be hard to deal with a simple fact, if you caught the infection early on it most likely could have been treated with a simple antibiotic.

When a person living with dementia starts showing the signs of
  • sharp memory loss, 
  • a sudden disorientation when they wake up, 
  • meanness, 
  • delusions, 
  • delirium, 
  •  or even talking gibberish,
the Alzheimer's caregiver, especially when they are new at caring, often attributes these symptoms as a common cause of Alzheimer's disease.

What I mean is, they often assume that the Alzheimer's, in the patient, is getting worse.

It rarely dawns on new caregivers that perhaps the sudden change in behavior is being caused by an undetected illness or infection. Well, not until the dementia patient become boiling hot, and it then becomes obvious they are sick.

It is my belief, and I am not alone in this thinking, that when a person living with dementia becomes
  • suddenly disoriented, 
  • or has a sharp drop in memory, 
  • or becomes mean, 
  • or evidences a new kind of anger, 
  • or experiences any new negative behavior
you should immediately think

Urinary Tract Infection.

UTIs cause more heartache than just about any single thing that happens while caring for person living with dementia.

When the dementia patient ends up in the emergency room as a result of a UTI that went undetected and had finally reached the "boiling point", the caregiver usually ends up so unhappy they can't see straight.

The typical Alzheimer's patient will tear your heart out if they end up in the Hospital. 

The look of confusion, disorientation, and sometimes fear on their face will wrench your heart right out of your body.

I know because I saw that look, and it still hurts just to think about an episode that happened 9 years ago.

Please make sure you understand that most dementia patients really can't tell you they are sick.

This means it is up to you to be diligent in taking care of them and doing things like taking their temperature daily to make sure there is no sign of illness or an infection.

Every Alzheimer's caregiver needs to know and understand that

urinary tract infections are frequent and common in Alzheimer's patients

(especially women). We need to shout this out at the beginning of every support group meeting so even the new people will learn this.

Were you or your loved one ever the victim of an undetected urinary tract infection that lead to a trip to the emergency room or hospital?

Are urinary tract infections sometimes gut wrenching experiences?

Have you ever felt the deep sadness that comes as a result of seeing your loved one suffer with a urinary tract infection?

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