Five years ago, I started taking Dotty's temperature every morning. The first thing I learned surprised me. Dotty's morning temperature is 97.6, not 98.6. Her core body temperature is about 97.8. I did a little research and learned it is not unusual for an elderly persons' core body temperature to drop as they age.
Tip number one. You can go to the doctor. The doctor can take a person who is deeply forgetful temperature and conclude that nothing is wrong when they get a reading of 98.6.
Don't go fooling yourself into thinking that doctors know about or even consider that a person's core temperature is lower and 98.6 might indicate a fever. The typical doctor appointment in the U.S. is scheduled for 10 minutes (more like 7-9 minutes in New York City). How thorough can a doctor be?
My mother had at least 10 urinary tract infections that went undetected at a doctor's visit, and were only detected when they worsened to the point that her temperature soared above 99. For Dotty, a temperature that is equivalent to over 100 degrees.
What was happening? That nasty E coli bacteria was breeding and getting stronger. As this happened, Dotty's behavior got worse and worse. There were times when things got so bad that I thought we were at the beginning of the end for Dotty. Take a look at the image at the top of this article that is E Coli. Imagine that stuff breeding fast inside the body.
I suggest that you take a person who is deeply forgetful temperature every morning. Learn the core body temperature. If it goes up by .8, get to the doctor immediately, that day.
Tip number two. A person who has a UTI will probably start peeing constantly. They might start peeing all over themselves. If they wear inontinence wear it might get "wet" faster than usual. Do not assume that this is being caused by dementia. Yes, it is easy to explain away just about anything by blaming dementia. When you see a change think, UTI, or infection, and become a detective and an inspector. Get on top of it. If you get behind the circumstances will worsen and you will end up paying a heavy emotional price.
Tip number three. When a person who is deeply forgetful makes a sudden behavior change think UTI or infection. Don't think, oh my goodness, things are getting worse and it is the dementia that is making this happen. Common mistake, believe me. I did it.
Tip number four. An undetected infection, including a urinary tract infection, can get so bad that it leads to death. That is right. Infection is one of the leading causes of death in Alzheimer's patients.
You can not rely solely on doctors.
Doctors miss infections and this sometimes happens in the emergency room. Most doctors are in a hurry in medical settings. It is a simple fact of life.
So know this, and know you have to take some real responsibility when caring for a person that is deeply forgetful.
Tip number five -- don't be how I was before I learned these lessons, learn these lessons now and avoid heartache, or worse.
I suffered great emotional pain over a 4 year period in part because I didn't know how to spot and detect a urinary tract infection. Dotty suffered great physical and emotional pain because I didn't know how to detect or spot a UTI.
More than once I thought this is the end. Dotty won't be able to function much longer. Only to learn when we finally got rid of the dreaded UTI she bounced back and started acting "nice" again.
Why did I write this article today? Dotty has a urinary tract infection. I caught it right away, called the doctor and asked them to check her based on a temperature reading of 98.6. Turns out I was right.
That is the good news.
So far Dotty is acting badly, and I have to live with it right now. This is reminding me of many years ago.
Hoepfully, in another day or two things will be back to where they were. Hopefully.
You get to choose, please try and use this information to the benefit of your loved one, and yourself.
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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,461 articles with more than 397,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room