Seniors are susceptible to many types of infections, and urinary tract infections ( called UTI) are a popular type of infection. If diagnosed early, the UTI can be treated easily. But if not, it can cause more severe problems.
It can be hard to diagnose if the senior in your life is also living with dementia. They may not be able to communicate the symptoms they are feeling and if they are in pain or discomfort, they may act out in other ways.
UTI Signs and Symptoms to Watch For
A UTI that goes undetected can lead to serious health problems, like a blood infection and this can spread to all the other organs. If someone has dementia, it can be difficult to know if there is a UTI, and as seniors may have other incontinence issues, it may not be noticed right away.
If you are caring for someone who may not be able to express their pain, or you have a parent living in memory care, you need to take special notice. When people are busy, the smaller symptoms can get overlooked.
If someone feels the need to urinate a lot or there seems to be a sense of urgency, this could be a sign. Also, if there is a desire to urinate but there is little or no urine that comes out. This is not often reported in elderly patients.
Pain or Pressure in Abdomen
If you notice someone holding or favoring their pelvic area, wincing, walking differently, or sitting awkwardly, they could be experiencing some abdominal pain due to a UTI.
Pain During Urination
If the person experiences pain or a burning sensation when they urinate, there could be a problem that is related to a UTI. Even if someone can’t tell you they are experiencing pain, they may show it in their face by grimacing or other facial expressions that relate to pain or discomfort. But know that often the elderly do not seem to have this symptom at all.
Dark or Cloudy Urine
One of the early signs of a UTI is dark or cloudy urine. Deep-colored urine is also a sign of dehydration, so that needs to be addressed, as well. If there is blood in their urine, this could also be a sign.
Strong Odor May Signal a UTI
If there is a strong or rather foul odor either when they urinate or emitting off of them, this is another common sign there could be an infection. If they are wearing protective undergarments, they may have a strong odor about them.
Fever, Night Sweats
Sweating through the night, low-grade fever, chills, and shaking can also be signs there is an infection present. These are not as common, but if someone has dementia, these smaller symptoms can get missed rather easily
Stronger and more severe UTI symptoms common in the elderly can include:
- Changes in behavior
- Confusion or hallucinations
- Poor motor skills
- Back pain
These are more common in the elderly and could also be a sign the UTI has advanced. It’s important to have the UTI diagnosed so treatment can be started right away. It can actually become life-threatening if left too long.
If you do suspect a UTI in your loved one, get them to a doctor right away. Prevention is a great way to keep these UTI away. People living in assisted care can often be more susceptible to UTIs, and more so if they are using a catheter.
- Make sure they are drinking plenty of water. This will make them urinate more frequently, but that is good. If they live with dementia, set a timer to take them to the washroom at regular intervals.
- Keep the genital area dry and have them wear breathable cotton underwear.
- Drink cranberry juice ( the type without added sugar), or give them cranberry tablets unless there is a history of kidney stones.
- Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol intake. If they live in a memory care home, this should not be difficult.
- Change them if they are wet or soiled immediately. Even if they wear protective garments, check them regularly.
- For women, wipe from back to front. Adding a bidet to the commode is a good idea.
- Avoid feminine hygiene products.
Dementia and UTIs
It’s very important to keep an eye on any changes in a person with dementia, even slight ones. If they are not able to comment or articulate their discomfort, it is easy to assure the changes in their behavior are down to their dementia.
The UTI in a person with dementia will most often cause changes in their behavior, not actual physical changes. They may be angry, confused, upset, lashing out, agitated, or withdrawn.
It’s important to get someone seen by their medical professional if there are even slight changes in the way they are reacting and responding to normal situations.
It’s already challenging to care for someone with dementia, so it’s even more important that any types of symptoms that present themselves as a possible UTI are checked and diagnosed right away.
We Are Here To Help
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation.
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!