26 Apr The Hidden Dangers Of Urinary Tract Infections In The Elderly
Although a urinary tract infection (UTI) isn’t normally consider life threatening, it can become very dangerous if it goes untreated. Urinary tract infections in the elderly can be confused for dementia, or other long term health conditions, because they often do not display the same symptoms in the elderly as they do in younger patients.
UTI Symptoms To Look For In The Elderly
As you grow older the feeling in the bladder may decrease or be lost completely. The pain that is usually experienced with a UTI can go unnoticed and therefore, undiagnosed. If a UTI goes untreated, it may cause more serious symptoms, such as: mental confusion, a change in behavior, mood swings, delirium, incontinence, and could lead to sepsis.
“Anytime I see a sudden change in behavior in a patient, the first thing I do is check for a UTI because they are so common,” says Amanda McGrew, A Helping Hand’s On-Call Manager. Reflecting on her time as a caregiver in assisted living, she says it is important to look for any of the signs early on because a UTI can lead to sepsis. If a patient already has another condition, such as dementia, a UTI can exacerbate the issue. Although it may be hard to notice, mental confusion caused by a UTI in a patient who already has dementia, the key is to pay attention to anything beyond their usual behavior.
Get Familiar With Their Baseline
While working as a LPN, Phillip Gansereit, A Helping Hand’s Director of Client Services, has had experience with these complicated cases where a patient has multiple overlapping symptoms. The best rule of thumb is to get familiar with the client’s baseline.
“If the client is getting confused or agitated beyond their baseline, I check for an UTI.” Anytime an extremely routine oriented patient doesn’t get out of bed or follow their usual schedule, he checks for UTI and stroke. Phillip also says that if they do experience clear symptoms, such as painful urination, a patient with dementia may not communicate it directly.
Verbal Cues to Listen For
Phillip advises that the verbal questions that he keeps an ear out for are statements such as “My seat is hot,” or “I don’t want to go to the bathroom”. If you are aware of the patient’s typical behaviors, it can make it easier to try to interpret what they are trying to tell you.
At A Helping Hand Homecare, we understand that to establish a client’s baseline, it is important to have a consistent caregiver and strong communication. In order to catch signs of a UTI early on, our caregivers document their daily tasks and call our nursing staff immediately if they see any symptoms. This helps our caregivers address the issue before it becomes dangerous.
To find more information on becoming a caregiver, homecare in Seattle, and finding assistance for in-home care, contact our Client Care Managers today. We are here to assist and to answer any questions that you may have.