Seniors have a higher risk for urinary tract infections, UTIs, which can cause sudden behavior changes. Most commonly known is the physical symptoms of a UTI, but it goes beyond that. Being aware of the signs can help seniors in getting treated early, before the infection leads to serious health problems.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection
An infection of the urinary system is caused by bacteria getting into the urethra and traveling up into the bladder and kidneys. Women are four times more likely to get UTIs than men because women have shorter urethras, making bacteria easier to travel to the bladder.
Certain aspects put people at higher risk for UTIs, such as having diabetes, kidney problems or a weakened immune system. Also, women who have gone through menopause face a higher risk because they have lower levels of estrogen.
What Methods Are Used to Diagnose a UTI?
Physicians typically diagnose a UTI through one of these methods:
- Urine test
- Ultrasound exam
- CAT scan
Antibiotics are the standard course of treatment for a urinary tract infection. If symptoms persist, a specialist may perform additional tests to determine the underlying cause.
How Do UTIs Impact Dementia
Seniors can fall to sudden confusion caused by UTIs. Some examples of unexplained change in behavior are increased confusion, agitation, or withdrawal. At times it can be difficult for seniors to communicate the way they feel, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of a UTI and seek proper care.
Be aware that any infection can increase the progression of dementia, so all infections should be identified and treated hastily. Immune systems change as we get older, so senior’s bodies react to infection differently. Instead of showing symptoms of pain, they often show cognitive complications.
For older adults who have dementia, these behavioral changes may come across as part of that condition or signs of advanced aging. If the underlying UTI goes unrecognized and untreated for too long, it can spread to the bloodstream and become life-threatening.
Is a UTI a Sign of Dementia?
A UTI is not a sign of dementia, but it can exacerbate dementia symptoms that were already prevalent. The infection can cause behavior changes for a person with Alzheimer’s, such as delirium – including agitation, restlessness, hallucinations, and delusions. UTIs can speed up the progression of dementia, making it extremely important for caregivers to recognize and limit the risk of UTIs in seniors.
How Can UTIs Be Prevented in Seniors?
To help your senior loved one minimize risks for a urinary tract infection, follow these precautions:
- Monitor fluid intake, encouraging the senior to have six to eight glasses of water a day
- Prompt the senior to use the bathroom several times a day, approximately every two to three hours
- Ensure that the senior maintains good hygiene, including daily showers
Most importantly, notice behavior changes. Sudden falls, confusion or an onset of incontinence may warn of a possible UTI. Contact your loved one’s physician for guidance or a check-up.
Entrust of DeSoto: A Resident-centric Memory Care Community in Dallas, Texas
Entrust of DeSoto is a memory care community that puts resident well-being at the center of everything we do. We know that each person is unique. That’s why we offer a wide range of services and lifestyle options to nourish the body and create community.
We understand the importance of home cooked meals and nutrition for seniors and this attitude is reflected in our dining experience. If you or a loved one live near Dallas, Texas and need assisted living, contact Entrust of DeSoto today to learn about our 24-hour care and find out how we can help.