Home > Activities, Safety > Summer, Vacations, and Dementia

Summer, Vacations, and Dementia

Image courtesy Boians Cho Joo @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.netThis is an article that I originally wrote on 8/17/12.  Given that we are heading into the hottest time of the year,here in the U.S., I thought it appropriate to reprint it. 

As hard as it is to believe, children in my area started back to school last week.  (Maybe it’s a sign of my own advancing age, but it seems that is happening earlier and earlier.)  But there are still a number of people trying to fit in vacations between now and Labor Day, and making it a point to enjoy spending time outside while the weather is still warm.  And this can mean an increased risk for delirium and even dementia.

The number of urinary tract infections in the 65-plus population often increases in the summer.  This can be due to a variety of reasons, including dehydration.  Especially with the kind of heat we’ve had in many parts of the U.S. this summer, it is vital to be sure and drink plenty of fluids — more so for those spending a lot of time outside and/or participating in active exercise.

The kind of fluids we drink is almost as important, when it comes to urinary tract health.  Caffeinated products can actually work against us, if we drink too many of them.  That includes coffee, iced tea, and cola drinks.  Water is much better — something I have to continually remind myself about as well.  And something else to consider is that we often spend a lot of time riding in a car, or sitting around at picnics or at pool-side, and often not emptying our bladders as frequently.  Combine this with the fact that older adults often lose sensation in their bladders and kidneys, making it harder to recognize the signs of an impending infection, and that our resistance to disease often decreases as well, and one can see where it would be easier for seniors to develop UTIs — often without even realizing it.

I’ve written before about how persons with urinary tract infections (especially those over about the age of 65) can show signs of delirium when they have a UTI or another infection.  This means that they can become disoriented, forgetful, and generally more confused than is typical.  Individuals who already have dementia, or even mild cognitive impairment, can show an increase in both physical and cognitive symptoms.  And, while these symptoms often resolve once the infection has cleared up, often times they do not.  (At least, not completely.)

So, it appears that we need to be more aware of what is going on within our own bodies during this time of year, especially if we’re going to be out and about in the summer heat.  And we need to be especially vigilant when it comes to our older adults, and make sure that they’re getting plenty of water to drink.  I know, too, that some people (myself included) can be reluctant about using some of the public toilets at parks and similar places, but carrying plenty of sanitary aids can help there.

  1. July 10, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    Important information to be aware of – especially this time of year.

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