The Link Between UTI and Dementia in Older Adults
Posted August 29, 2017

There is a link between UTI and dementia. If left untreated, UTIs can provoke delirium, and go undetected among seniors with dementia. There are parallels in causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Have you experienced a UTI? Over 50% of the female population experience a UTI, with around one-third experiencing recurring urinary tract infections. Men are less at risk, simply due to anatomy, though not completely out-of-the-woods. Some other reasons why a senior may get a urinary tract infection (UTI) include:

  • Diabetes.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Menopause.
  • Antibiotic medications.

If you think you have a UTI, visit Senior Living Experts online to find a provider that can offer you relief. Prompt medical attention is important – after all, it is an infection that will get worse if left untreated.

Signs of Urinary tract infection in seniors: 

The signs of a UTI are not hard to identify, and the discomfort may be the reason why many seniors do seek medical attention. Unfortunately, many will suffer in silence before symptoms are identified and treated. Some symptoms and signs of an infection include:

  • Pain and burning-sensation when urinating.
  • Frequent and strong urge to urinate.
  • Strange-looking urine, i.e. cloudy or very dark.
  • Incontinence.

Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty conveying and reporting symptoms of a UTI to receive treatment. Often confusion is present with both advanced-stage dementia and a urinary tract infection.

Understand the link between UTI and dementia in older adults

There is a link between UTI and dementia among the senior population, but what is it? If you look at the symptoms and causation, you may find several common denominators. It may further surprise you to see parallels in treatment for these two seemingly-distinct conditions, as there are many similar preventative recommendations.

Dementia could contribute to infection

While dementia doesn’t cause urinary tract infections, it could relate to difficulty completing activities of daily living (ADLs), which include personal hygiene and grooming. While the goal may be autonomy, caregivers need to pay attention to these factors as inadequate ADLs could cause medical complications, including UTIs.

Similar symptoms manifest

Dementia symptoms often manifest as delirium and confusion; urinary tract infections can exacerbate dementia symptoms. A UTI does not necessarily signal dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, though caregivers should observe to determine if there is an increase in confusion or agitation which could signal co-occurring conditions. The Alzheimer’s Society report that sudden changes in behavior with dementia patients- over the course of a day or two- can point to an infection and should be reported to a doctor. Know that when seniors have UTIS and the symptoms that come along with it, it could hasten the progression of dementia- another reason why prompt medical attention is integral.

Medication management can get tricky

Antibiotics put an individual at greater risk of contracting a UTI, and subsequent symptoms such as delirium. Since infections are typically treated with antibiotics, this can make med management challenging. Providers should have insight into the senior population and an awareness of the health risks and hazards that face this specific demographic. This includes a keen-eye for signs and symptoms of dementia, while wary of the interactions and problems when treating one for the other. Check out specialized providers and caregivers online to find a geriatric practitioner.

Women are at higher-risk

Regarding both dementia and UTIs, women are at higher risk. This could be related to the fact that women live longer than men typically. A study in the UK found that 61% of people with dementia are female and 39% are male. As mentioned, sheer anatomy points to women being more prone to UTIs than male counterparts. This is not to say that men are off-the-hook; some conditions predispose males for developing urinary tract infections include:

  • Bladder stones
  • Kidney stones
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Use of a catheter
  • Prostate infections
Changing habits can help

Making lifestyle changes and changing habits can impact the potential and prevalence of contracting both UTIs and dementia. When it comes to preventing dementia, healthy eating and exercise are considered relevant. A healthy weight, normal blood-pressure, and abstinence from alcohol and smoking are considered an effective approach.
As far as preventing UTIs, many of these same lifestyle changes apply. Maintaining a healthy-weight, getting exercise, and drinking plenty of water are a viable routine that can reduce the propensity for infection. Furthermore, using cotton undergarments, wearing loose-pants, and good hygiene can also prevent risk of urinary tract infections.
The links between these two seemingly-different diagnoses is interesting and particularly relevant for individuals over the age of 65. Don’t delay treatment if you- or someone you love- is showing signs of delirium, dementia, or discomfort. Senior Living Experts can connect you with a provider that can identify symptoms, provide relief, and network to find resources for patients, caregivers, and loved ones.

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