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Any infection or illness that stresses the body can make set in motion a worsening of Alzheimer's. Flu, pneumonia, untreated UtIs, falls - they all stress the body, so when these people who are already so challenged get sick, they may improve as far as the illness goes but their cognitive ability can decline. Hospital visits are especially bad, so if the person is in a nursing home most illnesses are treated by the staff there rather than hospitalize the person.

Naturally, there are people who come out of these illnesses with no change, but the possibility is always there, especially if they are close to changing stages anyway.

Take care,
carol
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Not necessarily. It would take more than a cold to kill someone. Flu can be fatal if the heart / lungs are already weak. A UTI that is not properly treated can kill. In advanced Alzheimer's the patient cannot tell you what their symptoms are, you have to guess. Once they are non-verbal they are very hard to treat.
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Things like a cold or fever or UTI can make the dementia symptoms appear much worse. Sometimes they stay worse, that is, the dementia itself progresses. Sometimes the patient returns to or close to the former baseline when the acute illness is over. This can take months.

On two different instances, I had visiting physical therapists tell me to expect my husband to remain at his new worse condition. Both times he recovered to his former baseline, but it took several months and by then the therapists weren't visiting anymore so they never learned that their predictions were not correct.
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I'm a registered nurse and have worked in a geriatric/psychiatric facility. Often we would get elderly demented patients from a nursing home that were admitted with "change of mental status". This patient 9/10 had an underlying urinary tract infection which can significantly alter a patients mental reserve. They would at times become so aggressive and assaulting the nursing home did not have staff to handle the patients and they were transferred to us. (We didn't have the resources either, but the for-profit hospital would admit every Medicare patient possible because somehow the hospital profited. Elderly are so frail I believe even the slightest imbalance can alter there status. Hopefully temporary. Please keep in mind that in ( PA) and I don't know what other states that if a nursing home patient with a "do not recessitate" (DNR) gets transferred you must get that re-established at the hospital they are transferred to because "change of mental status". I always thought how horrible it would be if a patient was recessitated after being transferred. I know I must have seemed cold but when interviewing the patients family's ( sometimes just the demented patient would show with no history) I would often quickly ask about DNR status to get it really-established ASAP. One patient transferred, admitted, coded and recessitated and sent to ICU. I think that person was in late 80's or 90's.
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Martinamarie...Since I have been caring for my husband I shudder every time I see one of the commercials come on the TV for some lawyer that says..if your loved one in a nursing home has had bedsores, fallen or suffered an injury that is abuse or neglect...it makes me ill. I have come to the conclusion that some of these things can not be prevented. In a facility restraining is not legal and people will get up and fall, people that are bed or chair bound will more than likely get a pressure sore at some point. How it is treated and how severe it is is the difference.
I have great respect for the people working in a facility. IF they are doing their jobs. I have seen some nurses that will refuse to do what you have described because that is "a job for a CNA" not a nurse.
CNA's , caregivers are underpaid and overworked. Nurses are stretched thin and in many facilities overworked.
Where I am Assisted Living facilities can no longer use equipment to transfer a person. So at least 2 people are needed to transfer a person from a bed to a chair. If equipment has to be used the patient is placed in a nursing home.
Be proud that you are a nurse.
I have a Hospice nurse that visits my husband weekly and I admire and respect what she does. It can not be an easy job.
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Hello Spanskym, The short answer to your question is 'Yes". Of course it's never short or simple. Most of the other previous answers are correct. The illness itself can cause temporary worsening of the Alzheimer's symptoms. The illness itself (esp.UTIs) can in and of themselves cause Alzheimer's like symptoms in eldery, even if they have up till not not exhibited them. With the UTIs often they go back to baseline after it's resolved. BUT for folks who have Alzheimer's it is common that ANY illness will, not just increase current dementia symptoms, but actually move them rather suddenly into more advanced stages of Alzheimer's. And it's not just an illness that can push them suddenly into the next stage permanently. Any event, accident, or change in their life can do it. Examples are falls (even without injury), moving their home, loss of another person, even changes in their routine, or events like losing their driver's license, almost any change, not just big ones.
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I am sorry for anyone having to care or be witness to aging/deteriorating elderly parents. I have been a registered nurse for 28 years. I know it's hard, but bed sores, falls and malnutrition happen in long term care facilities. We are not all negligent. I have worked with some lazier healthcare professionals, but the majority try to do the best we can. Not that this matters to the child of the parent with the bedsore, and I'm not making excuses, it's just unfortunately a reality we do not have enough staff to properly care for our elderly generation. Our hospital was a for-profit and it did not matter the level of care a patient needed it was a ratio of 1 nurse and nurse aid for 10 patients. It didn't matter if we had ten 250 pound plus incontinent assaultive patients. I would be changing a patients diaper and hear call bells and other patients screaming "nurse I need help". I brought concerns to my manager with her response " be glad you don't have 11 patients". We unfortunately don't have enough staff to constantly keep people clean if they are constantly soiling themselves. Yes, there are some that walk around a patient on the floor, look for the nurse who is cleaning up diarrhea and say "there is a patient that needs you". I would have a gown on cleaning feces and could not run out and take care of another. I hate that this is todays healthcare system and I'm embarrassed to tell people I'm a nurse. We also don't get trained in lifting heavy patients without help. Our bodies are beaten down with herniated discs etc. I'm sorry.
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Thanks for sharing your experience, Martinamarie. I didn't know that about DNR.
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Also like to add, changing an elderly persons environment when they are sick as in a UTI, bad cold, virus, etc... can also bring on dementia type confusion. Even just being in a weekend state and recovering from an illness and then changing the environment around them, even to a different room can cause great confusion.
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We moved recently to a first floor apartment from a second floor. My husband went to the ER the weekend we moved in with confusion and violence. He fell in the ER and put a gash in his forehead and a black and blue eye. So I guess those alone would be the cause for his Alzheimer's to advance so much worse. He is now in a Gerry-Psych Hospital for help with his confusion and behavior issues. I don't know what to expect when he is ready for release. I hope to bring him home and get him back to his baesline like he did two years ago after a long stay in the Hospital and Nursing Home. He was good for about two years until the move. That pushed him over the edge. I pray he will come back. Bonnie O.
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