Care Story: Dementia or UTI?

Meet Alice:

Alice is an 88-year-old woman living on her own in her home. She is widowed and has two children. Her son and his family live a state a way, while her daughter and son-in-law live a half hour away. Both children stay in touch and do their best to visit when their busy schedules allow it.

Her Story:

Alice’s daughter decides to visit her mom one Saturday afternoon. However, her usual, relaxing afternoon spent with her mother turns into a day of panic. She arrives at her mother’s house with her mother greeting her by asking who she is and why she is coming into her home.

At first Alice’s daughter thinks her mother is joking. She is finally able to convince her daughter that she is who she says she is. Her mother is moody and forgetful the entire afternoon and complains about being dizzy. Alice’s daughter worries that something must be wrong.

From what she is noticing, it seems like her mother is starting to develop dementia. She calls her husband, and they convince Alice to go to the hospital with them. Alice’s daughter cannot wrap her head around the idea that her mother could start showing signs of dementia so quick.

Alice is examined at the hospital. The doctors ask her easy questions about herself and she fails to answer her birthday correctly or remember her daughter’s name. Alice has no fever, so they rule out infections. Alice is given a CT scan, an ECG, and a urinary test. Nothing seems out of the ordinary about Alice until they get the results of her urinary test.

The doctor explains that Alice has a Urinary Tract Infection. (UTI) Alice’s daughter is confused and baffled as to how a UTI could make her mother so delirious.

MJ’s Advice:

UTIs are one of the most common misdiagnosed illnesses in seniors. Oftentimes, this delirium comes on quickly and some common signs of a UTI are not present or are overlooked by a doctor. Additionally, seniors can be very sensitive to the slightest change from a UTI which allows ammonia levels to increase in the blood stream causing extreme confusion.

Most importantly, if you have an aging loved one in your life, you should know what a UTI is and the symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever over 100.5 degrees- while this seems like a simple sign, most seniors do no show this sign as with age, seniors’ bodies may not respond in this manner.
  • Sudden signs of memory loss with no previous indication of Dementia
  • Worsening urinary frequency
  • Sudden pain with urination
  • Tenderness in lower abdomen
  • Delirium
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness

If the situation arises where you are taking your aging loved one to a doctor for mental changes, be sure to ask the doctor to check for a UTI when testing begins.

To help your aging loved avoid future UTIs, you should:

  • Encourage your loved one to drink enough water daily
  • Promote genital hygiene- take a full shower at least twice a week
  • Encourage more frequent urination
  • Ask your doctor if there is a low dose vaginal cream for post-menopausal women that can help
  • Encourage them to limit their intake of alcohol, caffeine, and other bladder irritants

Visit Caregogi

Does your loved one need help with activities of daily living? If so, Caregogi can help. provides seniors in need of care with quality caregivers in their area. To find a caregiver for your loved one today, click the button below.

[maxbutton id=”4″ text=”Visit Caregogi” ]

Did you find this article helpful? To receive links to more helpful content, follow us on Facebook.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.