Mary was diagnosed with dementia due to symptoms that included confusion and hallucinations. She grew increasingly irritated with other behavioral changes that are the hallmark of those suffering from this disorder that creates symptoms severe enough to interfere with the everyday tasks of living. Her primary health care providers believed that Alzheimer’s was at the root of these symptoms. A urine sample also revealed a urinary tract infection (UTI) which they treated with antibiotics. Mary’s family was astonished at the changes they observed in their loved one. By week’s end, their concern over the possibility of dementia had been swayed. All of their loved one’s symptoms had been caused by a UTI.
UTI and the Elderly
This illustrates the difficulty with diagnosing the elderly. This population has a tendency to minimize, and therefore not complain, about typical symptoms of UTIs such as the increasing need to urinate, pain or burning, night sweats or a strong smell. They may not develop a fever due to a deficient immune system. If they are also suffering from other chronic diseases, the diagnosis may be even more difficult.
UTIs are fairly common in the elderly. According to Health Line, “Over 10 percent of women over age 65 report having a UTI within the past year. That number increases to almost thirty percent in women over 85.” If your loved one exhibits any of the previously mentioned symptoms, make an appointment with their primary health care provider. UTIs, if left untreated, can lead to kidney infections and failure as well as sepsis, an infection in the bloodstream.
Reduce the Risk
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce or prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Help your loved one decrease the risk of developing this infection by implementing the following:
- Encourage correct cleaning-up protocol and make sure they are staying clean with regular showers, baths or sponge baths.
- Change briefs frequently and institute regular bathroom breaks every few hours.
- Avoid foods that can irritate the bladder such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods.
- Keep a glass of water by their side. If they have never been water drinkers, add flavor with fruits and encourage herbal teas and liquid soups such as tomato or vegetable.
- Cranberry juice can be beneficial. Make sure it is not loaded with sugar and do not use if your family member has a history of kidney stones.
Home Care Provider
A home care provider can assist with the everyday activities of living. They can also provide transportation and accompany your parent on social outings, ensuring they remain active and engaged as they navigate through the aging process.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in West Trenton, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.