How Infections Might Cause Confusion in the Elderly


Amnesia, Confusion, Memory Loss, and Altered Alertness.

Did you know that certain infections can cause confusion? I knew that memory loss was caused by things like: strokes, brain injuries, dementia and Alzheiemers. Not having a nursing background, this was new to me. My grandmother (94) has had memory loss for years. The main cause, was mini strokes that she had over a period of time.

This past year, she had a serious decline in her overall health and was placed on Hospice. I made a special trip from Germany to North Carolina; thinking it was the last time I would see her. She didn’t talk to me, her body was stiff and she was bed-bound. She needed full care. Recently, she was placed on a diet of pureed food because she had trouble chewing and swallowing. The pureed food probably wasn’t very pleasant, but it began to give her body the nutrients it had been missing. It was also determined she had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). A UTI can be a real problem for seniors like my grandmother. These seniors may not be drinking enough water, may not be able to say when they need to empty their bladder, and may be in pain; but unable to communicate it to others. Many people like my grandmother get UTIs over and over. I never knew that a UTI could cause confusion.

My grandmother’s UTI was cleared up by antibiotics. She was then placed on a low-dose antibiotic that she will receive daily. This will help prevent further UTIs. She very soon had a tremendous improvement to her physical and mental health. She went from not talking at all (or only a few words per day) to informing a nurse this week that the nurse’s socks didn’t match her shirt. She went from a stiff body in bed to using a walker with assistance. Though she is still confused, she is able to do things like put cards in order- much, much better than NOTHING.

For a list of other infections that can cause confusion, see the above article.

If your loved one is in a similar situation, talk to your doctor about ways to treat and prevent UTIs.

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