My 70 year old mum, been on antipsychotic medication for almost 30 years, became very withdrawn and vacant.
Treated in hospital for a UTI - however she remains distant, very flat mood and has no memory.
Doctor diagnosed Dementia - then took her off her antipsychotic meds ‘cold turkey’ - causing terrible withdrawals.
Weaning her back onto her medication now.
She says her mind is blank and can’t remember anything. She is very withdrawn, and SO confused, wakes up every morning not even knowing where she is.
Still in hospital and going straight into Aged Care - can’t come home as now needs 24/7 care/supervision.
What on earth is going on? Can dementia really come on this quickly?
I’m having trouble excepting this diagnosis... am I in denial?
Please tell me there’s hope for my mum :(

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I will definitely keep you all posted!

Yes I will definitely keep an eye on my dad, he is so sad...

Life is cruel sometimes
Helpful Answer (8)

This is only a guess, EB, but is it possible that the medication your mother was taking could have masked other mental health symptoms? So that was seems incredibly sudden may actually have been building up for some time. As I say, only a guess.

The other thing that strikes me is that your mother's health overall must present quite a complex picture. She isn't old, but thirty years is a long time, if she's vulnerable to a uti bad enough to require hospitalisation then clearly physical care isn't going so well, and her range of psychiatric signs could have any number of causes.

How long has this acute crisis been going on? I'm wondering if it's still early days, and the best thing might be just to take deep breaths and give it time to settle down before you try to figure out the best way forward.

To answer the first question, though: yes. Uti's can develop into severe infection just like any other, and infection is one of the (reversible) causes of dementia. But your mother's u.t.i. didn't come out of nowhere - there is just too much going on even to guess what your mother's chances of full recovery are.

What country are you in? And what doctor is leading your mother's health care? - that's the person you need to work on establishing a good relationship with.
Helpful Answer (6)

Hi Countrymouse, this is her first UTI (That I know of) but she has always had very good hygiene and has very rarely needed antibiotics ever.
It is 2 weeks today that she has been in hospital.
She has always had fairly good physical health- unfortunately she struggled with Mental illness though.
Being prescribed this medication decades ago she was never actually ‘labeled’ with a particular mental illness - she would always say ‘it’s anxiety medication’
Her condition was always good when medicated - a loving mother & wife, calm but low energy (wasn’t ever able to work) obsessive tendencies (highly highly religious- not in a healthy way) but could always do general home duties and had a friendly disposition.
However when she would take herself off her medication she would become very cranky and short tempered and I would even say void of emotion... so very very different when unmediated.
I am in Australia.
My mum just saw a local GP for her scripts and I don’t feel there is really a great level of care there.
It’s so strange that she now just stares and can’t answer any questions even as simple as “would you like a cup of tea”
She was at my sons birthday party just 6 weeks ago - helping me with food, walking around admiring my garden etc
And now she is sitting in a hospital bed with no memory and even wetting the bed the last 3 nights the nurse told us today...
The hospital did tell us that usually the spouse compensates for the early dementia signs and they don’t even know it...
My gut is just telling me there is more going on here...
Helpful Answer (6)

A neglected uti that developed to the point where it required hospital treatment could well cause dementia. Not to mention renal failure and ultimately sepsis. The lady has dodged a bullet.
Helpful Answer (6)
truthbetold Sep 2018
does the first episode cause a permanent dementia ? As in irreversible symptoms ?
CM has brought up some very good questions and possible causes of your Mum's health problems. I agree that antipsychotic medication for almost 30 years may have been covering up other health problems that the doctor could have been thought were related to her psychiatric problems. Antipsychotic medications have evolved and improved over the last 30 years and there are new drugs that are more effective than those used in the 1980's.

You stated that the doctor "took her off her antipsychotic meds (that she had been taking for 30 years) ‘cold turkey’...{OH WOW!?!}...-- causing terrible withdrawals...{Of COURSE, IT WOULD!}..."Weaning her back onto her medication now." Is he weaning back on the same medications or different medications? How is she responding to the restarting of the medications other than "She says her mind is blank and can’t remember anything. She is very withdrawn, and SO confused,"?

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) have a nasty effect on the elderly and a person who is usually alert and oriented can become confused and disoriented and not act like themselves if they have a urinary tract infection. Sometimes it takes more than one prescription of antibiotics to treat the UTI. Did the doctor do a "Urine Culture" to see exactly what organism is causing the UTI or just a routine UA (Urine Specimen)? If the doctor did not do a Urine Culture than I think I that you need to ask that one be performed along with a Follow-up Urine Sample to check whether the UTI has be resolved. Your Mom may need to have a "straight-catheterization" done for the Urine Culture.

Has your Mum experienced any major trauma or loss (like the lost of a sibling or other close family members or lost of ability to attend activities or any other major changes in her life) other than the hospitalization the past 6-12 months?

{My Mom experienced Major Depression with Delusions after her younger brother, age 83, died in March 2017, and her older sister, age 91, died in April 2017. Their deaths were too much for her to handle along with some other major changes in our family dynamics that occurred in 2016 and 2017. Mom went from being mostly independent to not being able to do any of her ADLS within 48 hours and now resides in a Memory Care Unit. She now uses a wheelchair and has to have help with all ADLS.}

I don't know if there is another underlying cause other Dementia that might be causing your Mum to "became very withdrawn and vacant...She says her mind is blank and can’t remember anything. She is very withdrawn, and SO confused, wakes up every morning not even knowing where she is." Has she been assessed for a possible TIA or stroke? What other tests were done while she was in the hospital? Or did the doctor just "assume" that your Mum has Dementia?

We need more background information especially as to what tests the doctor did while you Mum was in the hospital.
Helpful Answer (5)

Yes, a UTI can cause symptoms of dementia. However, once the UTI is cured, the symptoms go away. Your situation sounds much more complex, since your mother was on antipsychotic medication for many years. Why on earth was she taken off the antipsychotic medications cold turkey? What a terrible psychological and physical trauma that would be!
Helpful Answer (5)

Ultram, the new replacement for hydrocodone in the US, caused me to have bladder spasms and I couldn’t completely empty my bladder. Other meds have also had this effect. If a dementia patient takes this pain pill and it has a similar side effect, they could be getting one UTI after another.

This is happening with my mom. Some doctor told her Ultram isn’t addictive (it most certainly is) so she has it in her mind that she’s sticking with the Ultram. She says it helps her pain and I can’t argue with her.

So once a month, she gets her UTI and goes on a rampage. It’s very tiresome for everyone involved.

Another point I’d like to bring up is doctors who leave patients on strong drugs and twenty years go by and doc hasn’t taken ten minutes to make an informed decision and discontinue the drug(s) PROPERLY. I wonder if they even think ‘Does this patient still need this drug at this time?

After my recent prolonged illness I had begun thinking about that. I realized I was taking three drugs with a big dose of steroids in each. I stopped taking them. At my OV with my internist I told him I’d stopped taking those. He took me off my BP med because my pressure was 110/70! Also I had a very fast pulse over the last few years that has dropped to normal range, so steroids can cause racing pulse...

This is the third time I’ve had to overhaul my meds. Because basically I’m sent to a specialist who prescribes another Rx or 2. Then before you realize it, the drug wars are going on in your body!

The worst drug I ever withdrew from was Paxil. It took two months to get off Paxil completely. I had to use a razor blade and remove a tiny slice daily, to very slowly taper down. I still felt like I was losing my mind.

Never again will I take an antidepressant! It was awful!
Helpful Answer (5)

I have been precisely where you are! And no one was around to help me either. I felt my way through it all blind and clueless. That said, what helped was a multi-pronged approach:
*Kept a record of her (Altered Mental Status fluctuations.
* I got REALLY connected to mom's primary care physician.
* for a time, we had her catheterized to measure intake and outflow of fluids.
*also have an excellent relationship with pharmacist--they understand drug interactions.
*Never allow a doctor cut off her meds cold turkey..they don't even do that to hard-core addicts and jailed criminals...why in the world this is common with our tax paying elders, I have no idea...but the coma it triggered in my mom almost killed her.
Good luck--do something nice for yourself!
Helpful Answer (4)

UTI’s can cause delirium not Dementia. These are two different things.
Helpful Answer (4)

I'd find a new doc pronto! You don't wean someone off their anti-psychotic meds COLD TURKEY. WOW. I'd look up the drug sheet and what going off of it means. Or call the pharmacist.
Uti, dehydration and poor diet can contribute to a lot of problems.
Talk to the care team at the monthly care plan meeting. They might let you conference call in, if you can't get there. I Don't know they do that, but you can ask.
I worry that she had psychotic symptoms so they put her on med/s for that. What is the long term effects of that med alone? Interactions with other meds?
She might come around after her body re-adjusts to being off the med. It might take awhile. I'd let care team know she went off med cold turkey too. I think that seems cruel. But maybe the med is short acting and has no residual effects? You can find that out on the drug sheet. They have them online too. Good luck.
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