8 Tips for Coping with Dialysis: A Guide for Patients and Families

Dialysis is a lifesaving treatment. However, adjusting to dialysis is not easy and you may struggle to deal with numerous physical and emotional obstacles. It is normal to have these feelings, but also know it is important that you learn to fight them and develop positive thinking. This is true not only for patients struggling with chronic kidney disease, but even for the loved ones around them.

Tip #1: Take an Active Role in Your Treatment

Patients, be an active member of your healthcare team which includes your nurses, patient care technicians, social worker and nephrologist. Always remember that they are here to help. While the advice and opinions from them are vital, don’t forget that you still have a say on this. Remember, it is you that they are taking care of.

Be comfortable in speaking openly and honestly to your healthcare team, especially if you are having any discomfort. Don’t hesitate to ask them any question that you may have in mind. Knowing as much as you can will help reduce fear and anxiety.

Seek out advice from other patients. Every patient’s experience and story is different. These stories have the power to inspire you to handle things better or help you prepare for what could be worse. Sharing your experience will help develop an appreciation for the support you are receiving, and in turn, motivate you to help others as well. Be sure to get your family involved. Make sure you have the support you need at home.

Tip #2: Get Adequate Dialysis

Healthy kidneys work around the clock to remove extra fluid and waste from your body.  When your kidneys fail, the removal of extra fluid and waste from your body can only take place during your dialysis treatment. It is therefore important that you do not miss any of your scheduled treatments as inadequate dialysis will lead to the buildup of fluid and waste in your body, which can adversely affect your health and wellbeing. Make sure to find a kidney dialysis centre in Singapore where you can really be comfortable going to over and over again.

Your doctor will determine the amount of dialysis you receive based on the time it takes to remove a sufficient amount of fluid and waste products from your body.  This amount of dialysis is needed to keep you well and increase your chances of not getting sick and hospitalised. The adequacy of dialysis you will receive is measured by the Urea Reduction Ratio (URR) and Kt/V. Both numbers measure how much waste is removed from your body in a dialysis session. You can find a detailed explanation of these two terms on our website.

Tip #3: Know and Take Your Medications

You’ll be taking various medications along with your dialysis treatment. Knowing what they are and taking them as prescribed is important to keeping you healthy.  If you have other health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe additional medications.

Your healthcare team will periodically review your medications to make sure that you are getting the medications you need. The more you understand about your condition and your medications, the better you will be able to handle your treatment and stay healthy. Your feedback is always important to your doctor and healthcare team, so ask questions and let them know how you’re reacting to the medications.

Tip #4: Watch Out for Depression

Dialysis can cause big changes. You may have less time and less energy. You may need to make changes at home and at work. For instance, you might need to give up some activities and responsibilities. For this reason, depression is common with dialysis. Occasionally feeling down is not unexpected at the beginning.

But watch out for depression lasting more than a month. You should seek treatment if you start having changes in your mood, appetite, sleep pattern, or energy level, as well as lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities. Don’t be afraid to join a dialysis community which can positively affect and inspire you. If symptoms of depression persist, don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals.

Tip #5: Carry On with Your Life and Exercise

Dialysis will have an impact on your routine. However, you can carry on with as many normal activities as possible. Many patients are still able to study, work, and exercise while on dialysis.

As a matter of fact, exercise is a great tool for keeping fatigue, stress, and depression at bay. But before doing so, remember to talk to your healthcare team first, so you can be sure which exercise program best fits you.

Families, it might be a good motivation for the patient if you join him or her in doing simple exercises. Take this time to get fit and spend some quality time with each other.

Tip #6: Use Time Wisely While on Treatment

Each dialysis session lasts for 4 hours and a patient may require 3 sessions of dialysis per week. It’s important to make the most of that time and not let it be wasted. Use the time to read a book, watch a podcast, keep in touch with family and friends through social media, or review your dialysis progress with us on your smart device.  Time spent in the dialysis centre doesn’t mean wasted time. Use your dialysis time in a way that benefits you.

Tip #7: Stick to Your Dialysis Diet

At the start of your treatment, your healthcare team will give you a diet that will best fit your condition. They will give you tips on how to limit your fluid intake and control your thirst. You will also learn to avoid foods that are high in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. This will help make you feel better and energised.

Families, it may be helpful to prepare meals for the patient instead of buying fast food take-outs. This way, your loved ones will benefit from a low sodium dialysis friendly diet that will help him or her cope better with chronic kidney disease.

Tip #8: Sleep Well

It is common for dialysis patients to have sleep problems. But if not dealt with properly, it can cause headaches, unnecessary fatigue, and depression. Most patients find that exercise can help improve their sleep. Also, try to avoid caffeine and alcohol.  This will improve your endurance and make it easier for you to cope with dialysis.

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