May 4, 2009 -- Question: How common are urinary tract infections in Alzheimer's patients, how do I notice them and what should I do about them?
Answer: As patients get older and they're confused with dementia, for example, they may not be able to tell you that "Gee, I'm going to the bathroom more frequently" or "My urine is smelly" or "It burns when I go to the bathroom." Those are what we normally think of as symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
The patient with Alzheimer's may simply act confused or be listless or tired. And so it's a hard thing to pick up. But if you notice a change in someone's behavior, if you notice that they're not urinating as frequently, or when they urinate, it's dark or has a very strong odor to it, those would be tip-offs that someone is having a urinary tract infection.
And in terms of how common that is, it's a pretty common thing because people are unable to take care of their hygiene as well as they can. They may not toilet themselves as well as they should. Very often you have other complications. So it's something we see quite frequently.