Aug 26, 2014

How to Solve the Problem of Urinary Tract Infection in Persons Living with Dementia

One of the harshest problems that Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers face are frequent unidentified urinary tract infections. UTIs can worsen memory loss, make patients seem confused and listless, and sometimes make them seem like they are "just not there".

Forget me Not | Alzheimer's Reading Room
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Researchers have found that undetected urinary tract infections are common in dementia patients.

UTIs go undetected because the symptoms are hard to spot in dementia patients, and most patients cannot tell us they are feeling ill or out of sorts.

As a general rule of thumb you should suspect a urinary tract if you see any of the following changes in a person living with dementia:
  • A sudden worsening in memory.
  • A patient who suddenly seems more confused or disoriented.
  • A spike in the level of anxiety being expressed.
  • Weakness in walking or the ability to get up out of bed.
  • A sudden spike in core body temperature.
The bottom line here is straightforward. Persons living with Alzheimer's and dementia can't always tell us they are feeling ill. As a result, it is up to us to pay very close attention to any sudden changes in behavior, attitude, and memory loss.

More often than not, a sudden change indicates some type of infection, and most often, a urinary tract infection.

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Here are some of the things I wrote in the past with links to the appropriate article.
  • My mother seemed completely disoriented. On Monday morning, I woke up when I heard my mother yelling, Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. She came down to my room and asked me if I was in bed for the night. It was 6:45 AM. When I tried to explain to her it was morning, she started whimpering, and started telling me about how she was losing it.
    ...Like I said she was just "out of it" in a way I had never seen before. On one morning she asked me where we were. I told her home. Her response, is this where we live? Urinary Tract Infections Can Hasten Memory Loss in Alzheimer's Patients.
  • 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. Can a UTI make you lose your memory?
  • Did you know that as we age our core body temperature drops and this causes urinary tract infections to go undetected until they worsen. This often results in a visit to the Hospital emergency room or worse, the death of a person living with Alzheimer's. UTI and Body Temperature.
  • How to identify and stop urinary tract infections before they cause memory loss, increased rates of cognitive decline, or organ damage. Urinary Tract Infections.
Here are some comments made by readers about UTIs.

  • Clare - Oh my, I had no idea that UTI could be that harmful.
  • Anna Louise Allcorn Stewart - My mother would hallucinate and have much more severe dementia whenever she had a UTI. The last one she had ended her life. I too had no idea that a UTI could do so much damage to a person.
  • Daphne Reiley - My mom passed away from complications of a urinary tract infection gone systemic. 
If you would like to read 8 great articles on Urinary tract infections, how to combat urinary incontinence, and the dreaded bowel movement problem go here.

How An Undetected Urinary Tract Infection Can Kill an Alzheimer's Patient

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder and Editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.