By arhospice on September 12th, 2022
Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for 8.1 million visits to healthcare providers each year. Infection of the urinary bladder, also called cystitis, is what most people think of when they say “UTI.”
In healthy adults, a UTI is fairly easy to detect. The person experiences pain and possibly more frequent urination, and hopefully goes to the doctor to get tested for an infection. In older adults, however, detecting UTIs can be more difficult. Sometimes mental changes or confusion are the only signs that a UTI may be developing. When you add dementia into the mix, those signs can easily get missed.
While anyone can get a urinary tract infection, detecting the signs and symptoms of a UTI in older adults who have dementia or Alzheimer’s can be especially challenging. Symptoms, such as agitation and confusion, may be passed off as just part of the dementia. However, UTIs can cause distressing behavior in this population, too. These changes, referred to as delirium, can develop in as little as one to two days. Symptoms of delirium can range from agitation and restlessness to hallucinations or delusions. It’s important to be able to detect subtle changes and report them right away to the person’s healthcare provider.
UTIs are preventable and treatable – but they can be dangerous if left untreated.
Early recognition of a UTI and prompt treatment are essential to prevent recurrent infection and the possibility of complications, which may include:
Preventing a UTI is much easier than treating one. Here are some suggestions:
Perineal care is the ultimate UTI prevention. The perineal area is everything from the genitals to the anus. Excellent perineal care not only cleans and refreshes, it also prevents infections. The perineal area should be cleaned every day whether the person gets a clean bath or not.
For persons with catheters
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Information courtesy of Home Care Pulse.
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