Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Urinary tract infections in the elderly

They can literally drive them crazy

Did you know: In the elderly, mental changes or confusion often are the only signs of a urinary tract infection and possible spread to the blood should be considered?

Look, having witnessed this first hand on more than one occasion but most recently with really serious mental change occuring in my Mother I just felt it was an issue that needs more attention.

If you are a caretaker of an elderly parent, or any other elderly family member for that matter, and you see subtle signs of confusion about little things or maybe your loved one has a bit of trouble saying their words, mixing them up so they don't make much sense, this could be the first sign of a urinary tract infection and if untreated it could get very serious.

Pay attention to little things. I know my Mom has a pretty sharp mind, as a general rule, and I can usually see a urinary tract infection coming but in this last case she was already on antibiotics for it and we didn't realize they weren't really working. She got more and more mentally unbalanced until, finally, she had to go to the E.R. and get a strong dose of IV antibiotics. It was really pretty scary. She is recovering now and back to her old sweet self.

If your normally alert, elderly loved one starts talking kinda whacky and seems confused about little things, don't jump to the conclusion that it's just old age or they're getting alzheimer's or going senile, it could be that they have a urinary tract infection and just need antibiotics to clear it up. Take 'em to the doctor and get 'em checked out.

I get a lot of hits on elderly care. Isn't that interesting? I don't know why I found that surprising, it's a part and cycle of life and all of us caring for elderly parents could probably share some of our experiences with each other and save each other a lot of problems.

Mom just needs to put on a lot of weight now and get stronger. She and I could always use your prayers, 6 or 8 times a day, that's all we ask. ;)


Busplunge said...

I was going to post about almost the same thing. My mother,79, takes cumadin-a blood thinner. I have to take her to the clinic at least once a week to get blood work done because her cumadin levels are all over the board. My wife happened to notice that cranberry juice and cumadin don't interact well together. I asked my mother if she was taking cranberry juice,, she was to combat UTIs. Yesterday, she went to get her hair done and picked up an empty bottle of 02,adn spent all afternoon at the hairdresser sucking on an empty 02 bottle. She got home, realized she was having trouble breathing so she hooker herself up to another bottle. She didn't realize it too was empty. She finally called me in a full blown panic attack, she couldn't catch her breath. I walked down to her house, she lives 2 doors down from us, I got her on the home nebulizer, and eventually things settled down. This afternoon I got her some Lorazapan and pizza.

Jacke M. said...

Ah, Lorazapan and pizza, the perfect combo! Did she get that with coke or pepsi? ;)

Busplunge said...

actually, diet tonic water and the two grandsons (they live between us) came over and made paper airplanes for her.

Jacke M. said...

That sounds like fun. How old is she, Jim?

My Mom's just 72 but she's had health problems for many years.

Дж. Хьюз said...

My Dad turned 79 last month. He has survived two bouts of cancer, and a stroke he had a month before Mom passed away in 2003. This time last year he was visiting us down here for 3 weeks (to give my brother and sister in WI some respite) and I wasn't sure he would make it another year. But he has made a strong comeback. During our daily phone call today he was giving me a detailed comparison of Barack Obama and Huey Long. What a delight to have my Dad back!

Jacke M. said...

I've gone through that sort of thing with both parents now. It is wonderful when you think you've lost them and they come back.

My dad was here for a visit one week and the next week he was in a horrible car accident. There was some brain damage and I didn't know if I'd ever get to hear him tell me his stories again, give me advice, etc.

I think we don't realize how much we love people till we're faced with losing them, or a part of them. We were all so relieved when dad showed great improvement. He lost his sense of smell and developed a funny quirk, his vision is fine but his mind doesn't translate what he sees like it used to. He might meet a new person one day and spend a good amount of time in conversation with him or her but not remember ever meeting them the next day. His wisecracking delivery isn't quite as sharp as it used to be but my philosophical Father is still an excellent advice giver.

My dad will be 79 in March. He still puts out a big garden and runs a few head of cattle on his farm in Arkansas.

Anonymous said...

Take her temperature when there's a mental status change. A UTI will show a spike in temp. That can also explain some behavior oddities.

Urinary Incontinence said...

Thanks for the great article. While seeing the various risk factors of urinary tract infection is a bit scary as I think that my mom may be susceptible to it, it is really good to visit a doctor to conduct some test. Women are more prone to this disease.