Friday, January 4, 2013

Alzheimer's, Delirium, and Urinary Tract Infection

Delirium is a sudden alteration in mental status -- brain failure in a vulnerable individual, often an older adult with multiple health issues, caused by something else such as medications, urinary tract infection, lack of sleep, excessive light or noise or pain.

Delirium, which occurs suddenly, is not the same as dementia, although individuals with dementia are more susceptible to developing delirium during hospitalization than individuals without dementia.

Alzheimer's, Delirium, and  Urinary Tract Infection

Alzheimer's caregivers take note.

The dreaded urinary tract infection. Yikes.

One of the most frequently discussed topics by Alzheimer's caregivers in support groups is the urinary tract infection. This happens because most persons living with dementia cannot tell you they are sick; and as a result, they often suffer from urinary tract infections that result in a trip to the hospital emergency room.

I can't tell you how many "hair raising" emails I have received from caregivers describing hallucinations and delirium as a result of an infection, almost always a urinary tract infection.

One big issue with infection is memory loss on the part of the person living with Alzheimer's. In most cases I know of, the patients memory declines when they suffer from an infection that goes undetected for a while. The question? Will their memory come back to where it was prior to the infection?

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