Dementia can be suddenly worsened by an undetected UTI (urinary tract infection).
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Urinary tract infections are the bane of existence for caregivers - a cause of great psychological and emotional pain.
Few caregivers are aware of the connection between UTI and dementia. This is especially true if you are new to dementia caregiving.
Nobody said it better than Carole Larkin - Think UTI First.
I would encourage you to read this hair raising article that Carole wrote for the Alzheimer's Reading Room - Dementia Patients in the Emergency Room - Think UTI First.
Before I learned how to detect and control UTIs I had some of the worse caregiver experiences of my life. One time my mother woke up and was completely disoriented. She wanted to know when we were going to go home. We were home. It seemed like her memory was gone.
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I thought - this is it - we are near the end. She is starting to fall into the black hole of Alzheimer's disease. She seemed to be getting worse. So I took her to the doctor.
It turned out she had a severe urinary tract infection; and this was the cause of her behavior. The doctor prescribed a strong antibiotic. The next day she seemed much better. And the next day, she was cured. She was back to being herself.
I could never describe in words how bad I felt. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. The sense of hopelessness that was encompassing me was overwhelming.
From that day on I started taking my mother's temperature twice a day.
Here is what I learned:
- My mother's core body temperate was 97.8 not 98.6!
- As a result, my mother had a fever when her temperature rose to 98.4.
- Every time my mother's temperature rose to 98.4 she had a UTI, and a diminished capacity!!!!
- When we went to the doctor and mom had a temperature of 98.4 they automatically assumed everything was okay. They don't get worried until the temperature goes over 99.
- Think about it. If my mother's core body temperature was 97.8, and when we went to the doctor and her temperature was normal (98.6) she was fine right? Wrong, she was already very sick and getting sicker.
Do you know what happens when an elderly person has a urinary tract infection and they don't know it?
And just so you know. I took my mother to the doctor 15 times when her temperature reached 98.4. And, I was right every single time - she had a UTI. And yes, she was acting like her dementia had suddenly worsened.
Since I was taking her temperature twice a day I caught every UTI immediately that day; and, I took her to the doctor that day. Thank goodness I learned how to do this. If not, I would have lived through the psychological and emotional agony of it over and over.
You are the one that gets to decide: heartbreak, hopelessness, severe psychological pain, or UTI?
Will you start taking your loved one's temperature twice a day? Detect a UTI before it becomes vicious? Or, not?
Sister Raymond Mary once said -
A Word to the Wise is Sufficient.
She told me that when I was 7 years old.
Thank goodness I listened.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR).
"All of us in the Alzheimer’s community are fortunate that Bob has taken on this important work. At Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, we encourage people to follow the Alzheimer's Reading Room; and, we rely on it ourselves to stay up to date and in touch."
- Tim Armour
President of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund