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5 Top Tips for Caregivers

Caring for someone on dialysis can initially feel challenging, but like any new routine, caring for a family member or friend on dialysis can be learned and eventually feel less overwhelming. If you are a friend or a family member of someone on dialysis, here are 5 tips that can make the patient and your experience more rewarding:

1.Stay knowledgeable
As the caregiver of someone on dialysis, it is important for you to stay informed. Read as much as you can about kidney treatments and dialysis. Ask the doctor, nurse, and care team as many questions as you can come up with to ensure that you are knowledgeable. Being well-informed as a caregiver adds to the patient’s experience as well as your own experience as the caregiver. Misunderstandings are less likely to arise when you are thoroughly aware of what should happen while the patient is on dialysis. Ultimately, you and the patient will be the decision makers about what steps to take in treatment, so it is important for you to know as much as you can.

2.Take notes during dialysis sessions and keep track of their symptoms
When you take notes, you avoid keeping a vast amount of information stored in your head where it may be forgotten. Taking notes will allow you to have access to that information without the pressure of remembering it all. A kidney failure diagnosis can be overwhelming for both of you, so taking measures to lighten the mental and emotional load can help you both thrive through the diagnosis and treatments. You can’t remember everything, so allow yourself to rely on the notes you take during dialysis, recording changes in symptoms when necessary.

3.Set a schedule and stick to it
Having a set schedule can make treatments more effective. So whether you are always with the patient or you only visit for medical purposes, a consistent schedule can produce better results and be best for both of you. With a schedule, there is no question about when treatments will occur when you have developed a routine. This kind of consistency can benefit you and the patient.

4.Time
If you are the caregiver of a dialysis patient, it is important that you allow time for the patient and time for yourself. Undergoing dialysis can be tiring, so giving the dialysis patient time to recover after treatments is important. Additionally, as the caregiver, you should give yourself time to distance yourself from treatments. You may feel just as overwhelmed as the patient, so it is essential that you take time to do the things you enjoy too, making you a better caregiver.

5.Stay healthy
As with any diagnosis, remaining healthy is key to having the most effective treatments. Dialysis patients should be eating foods that support their dialysis treatments, according to their doctor’s recommendations. Additionally, it is important that they stay active. Keeping a regular schedule that includes physical activity can improve mental and emotional function while on dialysis. Monitor the patient’s eating habits and activity levels when possible to ensure the most effective dialysis treatments.

Taking these tips into consideration can create a positive experience for both of you.