When most of us talk about Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), we are talking about that raw, turning feeling that happens when the urine and urethra meet. Usually the cure for this condition is a visit to our doctors, followed by a urine sample, and then a course of orally ingested pills that will take care of this situation. In the meantime however, we try everything we can to avoid urinating, and set about gasping in pain when we must.
Urinary Tract Infections in seniors, however, result in a very different set and much more complex symptoms, which may go undetected, because they may be deemed normal symptoms of aging. Especially if you are a senior or providing care for one or more seniors, please take note of this list of common symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Increase in confusion, in general
- Decreased appetite (or less eating because of forgetting that they have not eaten
- Confusion leading to lack of personal care and less frequent changes of pads or pull-ups
- Loss of bladder (and sometimes even bowel) control
- Wandering and falling because of the increased confusion
- Apparent loss of bladder and bowel control because of elevated state of confusion
- Possible self harm or harm of others and surrounding again as a result of complete disorientation and understanding of the lessons we learn through life
This particular topic came to me as a blog post as a result of my recent visit to the doctor with and on behalf of Annie Oakley. Following a call from the nurse at her day program, advising that the staff had noticed an increase in her urination patterns while she was in their care. Having made an appointment with her doctor to check out the situation, we then had time to take note of the situation. Within about four days of the two weeks we had to wait for Annie’s doctor’s appointment, we noted a marked decrease in her cognition, resulting in what seemed to be apathy about everything in her life, including her meal preparation and eating. Always proud of her continued ability to make her own meals, she had become unable to tell us if or when she had eaten, let alone what she had prepared. In addition, more and more often she was accepting the offers from her care providers to have them make sandwiches, etc., but even then she might not eat them, but rather leave them go bad in the refrigerator. We also noticed that we were having to remind her always to take her medication and use her eye drops at the appropriate times and which were to be taken when.
Interesting that even though we are well aware of these symptoms of UTIs, we read these changes as a sign that she was going downhill fast…until we got to reminiscing about my mother and Philippe’s father having had some pretty strange times while affected by this condition. As it turned out, Annie did have an UTI, for which she now is taking her medication (yes, along with her other medications and with our help). We are hoping that this course of action will result in her getting back or close to back to where she was before she fell prey to a Urinary Tract Infection.
Please use this blog post as a cautionary tale as to what you can expect with UTIs in seniors, and then take the appropriate action. And, please help others in this same position by submitting your own tales to this blog.
Yours in caregiving,