Alzheimer's Caregiving : Dealing with Bladder Infections and Urinary Incontinence(Part One)
Posted Aug 25 2010 11:40am
You know what happens when an older person has a urinary track infection and they don't know it? They start peeing all over themselves and all over the place.....
By Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room
The dreaded urinary tract infection. The silent urinary track infection. No sensations, no burning. No telling when you have Alzheimer's disease.
I wonder? How many urinary track infections did my mother have been before we identified the problem. She couldn't tell me, I didn't know.
One thing I didn't know is that you can have a urinary track infection without any symptoms -- no burning sensation, no discomfort.
You know what happens when an older person has a urinary track infection and they don't know it? They start peeing all over themselves and all over the place.
Did you know this?
So anyway, my mother was peeing all over herself for years. We reached the point where we had 24 undies and 14 pajama sets.
You know what I thought? I thought it was Alzheimer's disease. And, in part it was.
But that was not the real problem. The real problem was because my mother was getting one urinary track infection after another. And, we didn't know it.
Obviously, an undetected urinary track infection causes you to pee all over yourself. So during the night you get wet. Know what happens next? If you are wet with pee your body makes more E. Coli bacteria. What is the cause of a urinary track infection? E. Coli bacteria.
Here is how I discovered the problem and the solution by using dumb luck and Bunkhouse Logic.
My mother started feeling warm to me. In other words, when I took her hand she felt warm. When I took her to the doctor, the nurse took her temperature and said 98.4. My ears perked up. I knew from all the years of doctors visits that my mother's normal temperature was 97.6 to 97.8.
When the doctor came in, I said to him her temperature is high and she has been feeling "warm" to me lately. I asked -- any chance she is dehydrated? He said, lets find out.
They gave my mother a quick test while we waited and the result came in. The doctor said, she isn't dehydrated but she has a bladder infection. The infection was so bad it took us a couple of rounds of medication and about 20 days to knock it out of her.
Please note: my mother was not complaining and she was not feeling any pain. No pain even when she peed.
Next, I realized that my mother had a reading from the nurse of 98.4 several times in the past. Uh OH.
How did I know this? Because I write everything down at every doctor visit.
Neither the nurse or the doctor thought anything was wrong when they checked her temperature and it was 98.4. Why would they? The have hundreds of patients and they don't have time to track a persons base temperature. For most people older people, 98.4 is a good reading. But it is not good if your base temperature is 97.6 to 97.8.
I started taking my mother's temperature every other day. Sure enough, if it was 98.4 for two days in a row, I would call and tell the women answering the phone at the doctor's office that we needed to come in because my mother has a bladder infection.
Of course, they wanted to know how I knew. Let me tell you, in the beginning, they thought I was an 'alarmist' and full of 'crap'. After the fourth or fifth time they started listening. Why? Because every time I called and said we need to come in she has a bladder infection -- my mother had a urinary track infection.
I want to make a couple of points here.
Both the doctor and the nurse were surprised when I came up with this method of predicting that my mother had a bladder infection. I remember the doctor telling -- good catch on your part. On the other hand, the nurse assistants treated my like a fool when I would call, and then again when I went in and told them the problem.
As an Alzheimer's caregiver you might be surprised what you learn if you pay attention and look for patterns that might seem out of the ordinary to others. You need to get on top and stay on top of these things. Why? Because you might be able to cut down on the amount of pee you are dealing with each day.
You might be able to use this information and get a similar result.
Most, probably all, women know that when you have a bladder infection you feel like you need to pee all the time.
Well, if you are an older person and you have a bladder infection the pee is going to fly. Everywhere. All day long.
When most older persons say or think -- I have to pee -- its too late.
So one thing you have to do is make sure it never gets too late. More or less, this is what led me to the solution of our urinary incontinence problem.
I walk around at home in my bare feet. My feet have been in more pee than most of the people on the planet. Been there?
After I discovered the problem, my mother had 5 bladder infections in 2008 and who knows how many in the earlier years. It took a while to figure out all the moving parts and come up with a solution that ended the frequent bladder infections.
This year 2010 -- one bladder infection. And guess what, my feet are also staying nice and dry. I'll explain how I did this in a series of articles on bladder infections and incontinence -- stay tuned.
I did write previously how I conquered urinary incontinence. Beat it. If you are new, let me make this clear. My mother was peeing all over herself several times a day. Several times a night. It was driving me crazy. Maybe you are having or had a similar experience.
Now you ask? We can go days at a time without problem. Several days with no pee pee undies, pajamas, or cloths.
Part of the solution was getting control of bladder infections. The next part of the solution was understanding what to do about urinary incontinence. I am no genius. But the solution I came up with must be somewhat unique because I never read about a similar solution on the Internet.
You know what usually happens when people start experiencing urinary incontinence with someone that has Alzheimer's? They start looking for the magic medication -- the magic pill.
Well I won't put anything in my mother that might conflict with the medications she is already taking. I never look for a medication as a solution to a problem. Never.
I do not believe that medication is an effective solution to urinary incontinence. I do believe that 'diapers' or 'briefs' are a partial remedy.
Why not attack the problem head on. Ask yourself, how do you get a person to stop peeing all over the place. Go into your bunkhouse and figure it out.
Or, you can read part two and three of this series and decide for yourself if it is worth the effort.
Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,810 articles with more than 89,500 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.