Apr 18, 2018

The Easiest Way to Collect a Urine Sample from a dementia patient or elderly person

From our reader Judith:

How do you get a urine sample from someone who doesn't understand what you're trying to do or resists the invasion of privacy?

How do you get a urine sample from an elderly person, Alzheimer's patient, or a person who won't cooperate?

This is an excellent question and I have not written about this in some time. So here we go.

Yes, getting a urine sample from a person living with dementia or an elderly person can be quite a task - sometimes near impossible.

Well, I have a solution to this problem that works 100% of the time if the person can take a pee on a toilet.

by Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

When you take your loved one to the doctor they usually hand you a little cup and asked for a urine sample.

To be honest, my mom, Dotty, could do it, but it seemed to me like this was a 200 year old solution to the problem. I wondered, isn't there a better way to collect a urine sample and get it into the cup?  I thought, surely, there is a better way.

Guess what? There is a simple and better way but it seems like doctors and their assistants rarely share this information with caregivers and patients. The device below is usually called a urine collection device.  It is also known as a top hat, nun's hat, or a urine specimen collector.

This device is so easy to use, you won't believe it. You just lift the seat on the toilet, and place the device in the open area. Then put the seat down. It fits perfectly.

All you do is have your loved one take a pee.

The device has a little spout on it that allows you to pour the urine sample right into the cup. Walla, it is done.

You can find these devices for sale on Amazon but don't pay a big price (like 5 dollars for one). Here is an example of where you can get 10 for $13.29.

You can also buy the device locally at a medical device distributor or medical supply store. One of our readers told me they bought them at Office Depot.

You could also ask your doctor or the physician assistant where you can get them locally, or if they have them available.

It worked like a charm for us.

How did I use the urine sample collector with Dotty?

I bought ten of the urine sample collectors, and my doctor gave me ten of the urine cups. So, every time we were going to the doctor I collected a urine sample from Dotty, and poured it into the cup. We took it with us to the appointment, and I handed it in for testing as soon as we arrived at the doctor's office.

Please note: in Urinary Tract Infection, You Can Learn From My Experience I wrote about how after I learned about core body temperature (baseline temperature),

I caught everyone of my mother's urinary tract infections as soon as they happened.

How do you spot a urinary track infection everytime - and as soon as it happens?

The best way to do this is by taking your loved one's temperature every day to establish their core body temperature. This is also known as baseline temperature.

Did you know as we age our core body temperature drops? I confirmed this by writing down my mother's temperature when she woke up in the morning. Dotty's core body temperature was 97.6.

When you go to the doctor they will always assume if your body temperature is 98.6 or below you are fine. In other words, you don't have a fever.

This is far from true. When my mom's body temperature rose to 98.4 she had a fever. I knew she was sick.

And yes, every single time she had a urinary tract infections.

I didn't need those urine strips to test her. I caught her UTI every time by taking her temperature daily.

So the answer I give when asked, how do you know when a dementia patients has a urinary tract infection, or a fever? You take their temperature every day and compare it to their baseline temperature.

Did you know that a person can get a sepsis infection from an undetected UTI and die?

More than ten readers of the Alzheimer's Reading Room had this happen! An undetected UTI turned into a deadly sepsis infection. And, if you read on Facebook you will read many many examples over time of how this happened to a caregiver and their loved one.

I caught more than ten UTIs as soon as they happened by using the temperature method I am describing here.

I bought a $5 digital thermometer to use with my mom and it worked like a charm - every time.

Many healthcare providers will give you one for free. Just ask the doctor how to get it.

Related Content

Alzheimer's, Delirium, and Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are like a plague when it comes to persons living with Alzheimer's

Think UTI First, Dementia Patients in the Emergency Room

How to talk and communicate with dementia patients

Death by Complications from Alzheimer's, What does this mean?


Care of Dementia Patients

Alzheimer's and Anesthesia

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".
  • 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 infection 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 baseline temperature (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.

Continue Reading and Learn More

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

Baseline body temperature (BBT or BTP) is the lowest body temperature attained during rest (usually during sleep). It is usually estimated by a temperature measurement immediately after awakening and before any physical activity has been undertaken.

Did you know the Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009? The website is designed to help caregivers deal with the problems they face each day.

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