Does pain — such as from a UTI — worsen the effects of Alzheimer’s?

Pain can worsen confusion, agitation and/or depression in someone with Alzheimer’s. But pain itself does not cause a decline in Alzheimer’s symptoms. 

Pain can be a terrible puzzle when dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s. Because many times the person with Alzheimer’s can’t communicate adequately, he or she will resort to wandering, sleeping, grimacing or being agitated — or shutting down altogether. Take a cue and watch closely because if your loved one has a sudden change in behavior (such as confusion, for example), it’s possible he or she is experiencing pain or discomfort. This could be anything from an infection to simply having shoes that are too tight.

When caregivers work with cancer patients, their goal is to keep the person as comfortable as possible by eliminating or soothing the pain. It should be the same with individuals with Alzheimer’s, no matter what the stage or age. They should be comfortable and pain-free.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) definitely can cause pain. Its symptoms include burning, itching and inflammation. Treatment is neither complicated nor invasive and will increase quality of life.

For other chronic pain-producing conditions, such as arthritis, a person with Alzheimer’s should continue treatment according to doctor’s orders. For things like sore throat, backache, headache and foot pain, seek a doctor’s advice as necessary — do not let the condition linger too long or get out of hand.

Depression is not uncommon for individuals with pain. If a loved one who has Alzheimer’s is suddenly a lot less enthusiastic about previous interests, it could be a sign he or she is experiencing pain. Be aware, however, that people also can act this way when there is no pain present.

For further information, please access our FREE  “Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit” by clicking here.