5 Helpful Tips for Seniors Coping with Dialysis
Seniors diagnosed with kidney disease may be required to undergo regular dialysis treatments. While healthy kidneys are designed to filter toxins from the blood, diseased or failing kidneys don’t function properly, and over time, waste and toxins accumulate in the bloodstream causing illness and even death. Dialysis is a process that manually filters a patient’s blood to remove harmful toxins, and can be a life- saving treatment for those with kidney disease.
Some patients have to receive dialysis treatment a few times a month, while others need treatment several times each week. Regardless of treatment frequency, there are some common side effects that can cause patients to feel sick. Overall, receiving dialysis treatment can be extremely taxing, both physically and emotionally, so it’s important to have a good support system of family or friends who are able to help you through the process.
Here are some tips for seniors on how to cope with some of the most common symptoms of dialysis:
Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure is typically the most frequent complaint among dialysis patients, affecting an estimated 25% of patients. To maintain a healthy blood pressure, it’s important for dialysis patients to stay properly hydrated. This can be done by drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day and avoiding salty foods that may cause excess water retention.
Nausea is a side effect of kidney disease itself as well as dialysis treatment. Additionally, low blood pressure can also cause nausea and vomiting, so these side effects often go hand in hand. To cope with nausea, seniors undergoing dialysis treatments can try anti-nausea medication. Most over-the-counter medications are considered safe for seniors, but it’s still important to consult with a doctor prior to starting any medication. The doctor may also be able to prescribe a stronger anti-nausea medication if needed.
Muscle cramping associated with dialysis can be extremely painful. To combat cramping, healthcare professionals suggest stretching often, taking frequent walks throughout the day and performing light exercise, all of which can help to relax the muscles. Applying heating pads can also help improve circulation and reduce pain.
Dry, itchy skin
Dry skin is common side effect experienced by seniors undergoing dialysis, particularly during the winter months. To help ease the symptoms, patients should keep skin moisturized with non irritating, fragrance-free lotions such as Eucerine or Aquaphor. Also, be sure to cleanse skin with moisturizing soap for sensitive skin to help avoid skin from drying out.
Restless leg syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome is another common side effect that causes patients to constantly move their legs due to an uncomfortable “crawly” or “pins and needles” sensation. Restless leg syndrome can also be associated with many different health conditions, so it’s important to discuss with your doctor as soon as it becomes apparent.
While dialysis is a life saving treatment for those with kidney disease, it does come with many unfortunate side effects that can greatly impact your quality of life. If you are caring for a loved one on dialysis, prepare to be extra supportive and watch them for signs of depression. If you are not able to care for your loved one full time an in-home caregiver may be a good option to make sure they receive the assistance and support needed to cope with treatments.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.