A female caregiver talking to an elderly woman in a wheelchair at a flower garden A female caregiver talking to an elderly woman in a wheelchair at a flower garden

Why UTI’s Are Dangerous for Dementia Patients

UTI’s if not treated in an elderly person, can lead to several serious issues. These issues could be chronic or acute kidney disease or sepsis, a life-threatening immune response to the infection.

What Are the Symptoms of a UTI?

It can be difficult to tell if a dementia patient has a UTI. If the senior has dementia, they may not tell their caregiver about the discomfort. Plus, symptoms that are typical of other people don’t often show up in an elderly person.

An infection happens when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply in the person’s bladder. This infection occurs in the elderly more often because of other underlying problems. These issues could be a weakened immune system, incontinence, problems emptying the bladder completely, or bladder obstruction.

Since a senior’s body responds differently to infection, other signs and symptoms need to be examined. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Delirium, confusion, and agitation, or hallucinations
  • Dizziness, loss of coordination, or poor motor skills
  • Lethargy, falling, or back pain
  • Decreased appetite, nausea, or vomiting

How to Diagnosis a UTI

If a UTI is suspected, a urinalysis is performed. In addition, there are over-the-counter tests that can be performed at home. These check for bacteria that are in the urine of a senior adult. An at-home test that shows positive doesn't always mean there is a UTI infection. But if it does show positive, the doctor needs to be called immediately.

Treatment for a UTI

If the person does have a UTI, then a course of antibiotics will most likely be given. The infection usually clear up within a few days. But completing the entire prescription is essential. Plus, drinking lots of water to flush out the bacteria is also part of the treatment. If the person is having discomfort, a heating pad or over-the-counter pain reliever can be used.

But sometimes, antibiotics aren't always the best choice. For example, the person could have an allergy to antibiotics or have difficulty with the side effects. So other remedies would need to be used. Those other remedies could include:

  • Plenty of hydration: Drinking lots of water and cranberry juice can treat UTIs and prevent them from occurring. Hydration dilutes the urine, which makes the bacteria which causes the infection more difficult. In addition, antioxidants in cranberry juice have antibacterial properties, which can help prevent infections.
  • Probiotics: Eating food with probiotics like sauerkraut, yogurt, some types of cheeses, and supplements can lower the pH in urine. This makes developing an infection more difficult. Plus, the probiotics produce hydrogen peroxide in the person's urine, which is a strong antibacterial agent.
  • Topical gels: After menopause, the lower levels of natural estrogen can be linked to frequent UTIs. Vaginal or cream suppositories or topical hormone therapy gel can protect against the bacteria which causes UTIs.
  • Toilet and hygiene habits: Good toileting habits and continence care can help to minimize the possibility of infection. Since UTIs are caused by bacteria or stool, keeping the area clean as possible is necessary. For example, women need to wipe front to back, and soiled incontinence briefs changed as soon as possible. Indwelling catheters need to be cleaned with soap and water daily.
  • Urinate frequently: Encourage frequent urination instead of holding urine. Frequent urination can discourage bacteria from breeding in the bladder.

What Happens If the UTI Isn’t Treated?

If a UTI is left untreated, there is a risk of more severe complications in a senior. A short-term complication can be delirium or confusion. These complications are a warning sign of a UTI infection. But these symptoms will resolve once the infection is treated.

Right at Home has competent homecare caregivers who are trained to handle UTIs and all the complications. So if your senior is having issues, please call us today. We can help.

Right at Home Nassau Suffolk, NY
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