Seniors: The connection between dementia and urinary tract infectionsWhen a family notices that their loved one’s dementia has suddenly increased during the last month or that someone is suddenly showing signs of dementia that just started in the last two weeks, I always recommend going to the doctor for a checkup.
By: Mary Krueger, Douglas County Senior Coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press
Many families have not heard of the connection between dementia and urinary tract infections (UTI).
When a family notices that their loved one’s dementia has suddenly increased during the last month or that someone is suddenly showing signs of dementia that just started in the last two weeks, I always recommend going to the doctor for a checkup.
Obviously, other things can cause this, but often it is a UTI that can be treated with antibiotics.
For those of us with senior citizens in our lives, we should be aware of this unlikely connection. Understanding the correlation between the two and learning how to diagnose a UTI in a senior citizen are important steps in the process.
UTIs can cause a significant change in someone’s behavior, commonly known as delirium. This is a change in someone’s mental state or consciousness and usually develops over one to two days.
Some of the symptoms may include agitation or restlessness, increased difficulty with concentrating, hallucinations or delusions or becoming unusually sleepy or withdrawn.
If a UTI goes untreated, the infection can reach the kidneys and create an infection in the bloodstream. When this happens to a senior, an onset of problems can occur as the immune system changes with aging and is unable to prevent some health problems.
First of all, UTIs are difficult to diagnose in a senior citizen. And second, the stress the UTI places on the body puts a lot of burden on the immune system.
If the senior already has a chronic condition or disease, that is worsened as the immune system can only handle so much.
Here are some of the common warning signs of a UTI in a senior citizen:
--Not being able to do tasks that the senior could easily do a day or two before
--Inability to control the involuntary leaking of urine.
--Urine that appears cloudy.
--Urine that appears bright pink or cola colored.
--Strong smelling urine.
--A fullness in the rectum (for men).
If you think you or your family member has a UTI, contact a doctor and request a urine test. Lower UTIs are usually treated with a three day course of antibiotics.
Half of all women will develop urinary tract infections in their lifetime. UTIs account for about 8.3 million doctor visits each year. They are the body’s second most common infection, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. They are common, but they are not harmless.