My mother keeps having reoccuring uinary/yeast infections. She was moved to assisted living two weeks ago. Apparently with Alzheimers, you don't feel the pain that most of us would feel with this type of disorder. How common is this type of infection with those that have Alzheimers? My mother thinks she is taking care of herself. They have decided to put her in Depends on a daily basis.
Evidently it is very common. Mom has had several since her move to AL... and a few even before that. Dad has had a couple himself. I do know that when any bizzare behavior starts the first thing my parents doctor does is check for a UTI. So far it has explained a LOT!!
Not only do they not feel the pain but what they do feel, they can not express in adequate words to explain their discomfort. I have noticed, for a long time with Dad and recently with Mom, that they do not tell you where or if they hurt. They are more likely to become grumpy, withdrawn, aggitated, or annoyed and not be able to tell you a reason. Finding the cause is sometimes like playing where's waldo in a room full of little faces
I am not sure if the decision to use the depends was related to the UTI. It was more likely related to episodes of incontinence. Her ability to clean herself may be related to the UTI's though. But more likely it's a function of dehydration. At least with my parents they forget to drink, if you ask them they will swear they have had something to drink, or say they don't want anything which is probably because they are not sure where or how to get it. We have the staff handing them full glasses of liquid with each round of medication, rather than the little sip cups, and that seems to have helped the hydration problem.
It is extremely common. Usually an elderly person has a somewhat reduced defense system (resistance to disease) while at the same time becoming less careful about personal cleanliness, especially if they have Dementia. My Mom forgot how to wipe herself, in fact often forgot to wipe at all.
Depends (adult diapers) are not an answer to UTI's because sitting around in your excrement can only make it more likely, not less. But if the AL staff stays on their toes and changes a person's Depends as soon as they need changing, the proper cleaning can help avoid infections. If your Mom is not incontinent, then just having an aide help her clean herself after using the bathroom would help a lot, and she will feel much better about herself if not in diapers. However, once again, this depends on the staff being on the ball, and really helping the person get properly clean.
These infections are so common among elderly people including non Dementia patients that a urinalysis is a part of almost every basic health exam once you reach a certain age.
It is not true that the burning and pain and itching are not felt by the dementia victim. They absolutely feel pain, itching, or discomfort -- they just don't know what to do or say about it, have no word for it, are unable to communicate to you or the staff that something is wrong. So it comes out in being weepy, irritable annoyed or aggressive. Think of a child pre-talking -- when he has an earache he can't say my ear hurts . But he can and does cry, whine, pout, refuse to eat, have a tantrum and maybe finally, pull at his ear.
The Dementia person with aphasia (loss of words) is really vulnerable to such infections, because they really can't explain their symptoms. If asked are you in pain, they may say no. And yet urinating may burn just as much as when you and I have a UTI.
Extreme cleanliness, constant monitoring, etc are the only help. Being on antibiotics frequently is also not good, they may develop an allergy to the substance, or germs may become resistant to this drug. It's a dilemma.
Good luck and I hope she feels better very soon! Drinking a lot of water, tea or cranberry juice also helps.