3 Easy Ways to Avoid Urinary Tract Infections in Someone With Dementia and Incontinence

Bladder accidents invite urinary tract infections. So if your loved one has regular or occasional incontinence, it's especially important not to overlook fever, increased confusion, disorientation, or complaints of pain -- all are signs of UTI.

To reduce the odds of a UTI:

1. Wear disposable rubber gloves when changing incontinence pads or underwear. (You can get them at hospital supply stores, including many that are online, and at amazon.com.)

2. Add a mattress protector to the bed, and -- for ease in changing bed linens -- use absorbable bed pads between the mattress pad and bottom sheet. (Again, they're at hospital supply stores, in disposable and washable forms.)

3. It should go without saying, but always wash your hands before and after dealing with toileting or accidents.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

over 3 years, said...

My problem is my wife sometimes sits on the toilet for long periods of time, thinking she has to go when she might have gone a short time before. Also, the throw away Depends are good and I have no problem getting her to wear them. I do all the things you suggest with pads on the bed.

over 6 years, said...

Reenforced measures in-place already. Also, I would suggest adding a "draw-sheet" across the mid-section of the mattress with a mattress protector between it and the actual sheet. This is sometimes all it is necessary to change along with the other measures and it can be done more quickly during the nighttime.

over 6 years, said...

I have learned that often UTIs are caused by what I call "the one-arm wipe'. The patient needs something to hold onto when using the bathroom, and so use that other hand to wipe, unfortunately usually from back to front. The bacteria entering the vaginal area will almost always cause a UTI. I have asked the nurses where my parents live, why, when my mother (and father) are not taking care of their own toileting, they still get UTIs. Especially my mother - it's a chronic situation for her. I realize it can be caused by a dropped bladder, or an enlarged bladder that holds a larger amount of urine, causing bacteria to grow. Many of the residents often have UTIs. Then I was helping her one day, and an aide came in to help me. They wiped her rear, folded the towelette over and wiped her front. I could not believe my eyes. I told the head nurse what I had witnessed, but would not tell her who the aide was. Train them all again. Unforgiveable. Also, look for other than the mainstream symptoms. My mother never complains of pain, but she does have frequency and accidents. I can tell very quickly if she has an infection other ways. She uses a scooter, and if she has any trouble driving it, that's her first sign. If she is 'down', that's the second sign. If there's any confusion, that's the third, and they need to be testing her.