New confusion in the elderly

Don’t miss the signs of infection in the Elderly…


That confusion or changes in mentation is often a first sign of an infection in elderly patients?  Often a family or care staff member will say their elder loved one has just “not been themselves” the past couple of days, and when they go to the hospital they are often “Septic” with some infection.  A Urinary Tract infection (UTI) is a common culprit. But every infection anyone gets means a risk of developing sepsis.

One day your usually sweet Granny is all upset and very confused……

Recognizing the signs of infection in the elderly is key:

  • Lethargy or being more tired than usual
  • Confusion, sometimes with increased agitation
  • Lack of appetite
  • “Not themselves” mentally

The Sepsis piece is actually the body’s response to an infection somewhere in the body…  Infections can be very serious because they can trigger sepsis, which kills more people in the United States than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS – combined. 

Also, did you know that as you age, you lose the ability to run a fever as a sign of an infection?

The elderly often have a low- temperature, or hypothermia, as a symptom or response to infection.   Any temperature below/= 96 may be part of their infection symptoms.  (

Sepsis can move into severe sepsis quickly, so getting help and treatment as quickly as possible is vital.  Learn to recognize and follow up on these and other signs of infection and sepsis quickly, it may just save someone you love.