Artificial Intelligence (AI) can Detect Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in Seniors with Dementia

Urinary Tract Infections (NIA)

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is one of the most common reasons people with dementia are hospitalized because UTI is not detected early enough to be treated at home with antibiotics. In many cases UTI does not get noticed until serious complications arise that lead to hospitalizations. Undetected UTI can lead to serious problems, especially if the infection spreads to the kidneys. In turn, undetected kidney infections can lead to life threatening infections like sepsis and toxic shock.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Algorithm can Detect UTI in People Living at Home with Dementia

Researchers at the University of Surrey have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can detect urinary tract infections in their earliest stages in people with dementia who are living at home. This can allow for intervention, so that they can be treated at home with antibiotics while the infection is small in its earliest stages. This also frees up hospital beds, as in the UK 1 out of every 4 hospital beds are filled with people who have dementia. In fact, 22% of these hospitalizations for people with dementia are from causes that are preventable if caught early enough like UTI. Results of their trial were published January 15, 2019 in the PLOS ONE journal.

Sensory Devices can Lead to Fewer Hospitalizations for People with Dementia

The researchers use Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and in-home sensory devices together with machine learning techniques to monitor health and well-being of people with dementia. Research shows that people with dementia may receive inferior quality of care in hospitals  and this also contributes to a worsening of their dementia symptoms. This is another reason to try to cut back on hospitalizations for people with dementia. Detecting urinary tract infections with special sensors in their homes, so they can be treated with antibiotics at home can cut down considerably on hospitalizations for people with dementia. Currently, about 40% of seniors hospitalized in the UK have dementia.

UTI Difficult to Diagnose in People with Dementia

As it is, there are many misdiagnosed cases of UTI in people with dementia. Sometimes the only symptoms of someone with dementia who has UTI are confusion, agitation and mood changes. However, all of these are often part of the syndrome for people with dementia and these can be from other causes. Studies have shown that 40% of people with dementia and UTI are misdiagnosed and thus some are treated with antibiotics who do not really need them, while some of those who do need them do not get treated with antibiotics. This new technology can help to detect those that really do have UTI, so that they can be treated at home and avoid hospitalizations. Read more about UTI and seniors in our blog post from February 9, 2018.

The Study

Participants in the study had been diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia and were stable on medication. All the participants lived in Surrey county in the UK and had been receiving a minimum of 10 hours care a week by a family member or a caregiver. The trial period for the participants was for six months. Sensors were placed in various places all over their home. Blue tooth medical devices recorded their blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, weight and hydration state. The researchers also spent time analyzing daily routines and sleep patterns of people with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most commonly found dementia and the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK estimates that about 46.8 million people worldwide have dementia. They predict that these numbers will reach 74.7 million by 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050. In the United States over 5.7 million people are believed to have Alzheimer’s. To date, no cure has been found in spite of the fact that large sums of money have been invested in research. Alzheimer’s causes extreme memory loss, psychiatric problems, sleep disturbances, personality changes, agitation, wandering and sometimes aggression. People with dementia also have a lot of falls and this in turn can lead to orthopedic problems like fractures and the need for hip replacements. Also, many people with dementia have other health problems such as cardiovascular and lung problems. Some people with dementia are post stroke.

Boon for Caregivers

This new technology can be a real boon for caregivers, as it can alert them that their loved one has a urinary tract infection or catch other behavior changes.

Memory Care at Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York

If your loved one needs to be in long-term care due to advanced dementia, the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York offers expert memory care and also has a fantastic array of recreational activities and programs.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine algorithms pose all kinds of ways to detect early incidences of UTI, and can also alert caregivers to other changes that may signal other kinds of physical or mental health problems in people with dementia.



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