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Playing Detective

By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
 
(Page 2 of 3)

This is why itís important a caregiver understand the most common senior-specific symptoms of a UTI. These include:

  • Confusion, or a delirious state
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Other behavioral changes
  • Poor motor skills and/or dizziness
  • Increase in falls
  • Facial grimaces

Sometimes these are the only symptoms that show up. If one day a loved one can change their clothing with no assistance and the next morning is requiring sufficient help, a red flag should be raised in a caregiverís mind.

Treatment

The diagnosis part of a UTI situation is simple once symptoms are identified and a urinalysis is completed. The treatment most likely will be a course of antibiotics.

Most UTIs clear up in a few days, but age and health, as well as infection severity will determine the treatment course. It can take weeks and involve hospitalization if the need for intravenous antibiotics arises. A physician may also take a culture of the urine to determine exactly what type of bacteria is growing and the most effective medication to prescribe a loved one.

Those living in senior communities or nursing homes often are more resistant to the traditional antibiotics given to UTI patients, such as amoxicillin, and may require something stronger, and/or a longer duration.

A common cause of UTIs is using a catheter. If this is the case, part of the treatment is minimizing use of the device, and removing or replacing it more often. For an in-dwelling catheter, a caregiver should discuss with the physician a changing schedule and ensure it is followed. Some catheters are specially designed to minimize bacterial transmission from the tubing, and may be an option to consider if the UTIs persist over time.

Caregivers may worry if the confusion brought about by a UTI is permanent. Experts say that is dependent on whether, and how quickly, the cause of the confusion is determined. Ruling out a UTI or other infection is an appropriate first step for caregivers when noticing sudden changes in a loved oneís mental status. Early treatment of a UTI can prevent serious symptoms and complications, and will most likely result to a return of a loved oneís normal mental state.

 

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