7 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Holiday on Home Dialysis

By Mary Herrick, Home Dialysis RN

Nothing is better than spending the holidays with family and friends. Being in someone else’s home (or having guests in yours) can change your dialysis routine, not to mention your diet. But there are several things you can do to stay safe and well dialyzed while you enjoy the season.

1. If you plan to travel, let your nurse and the supplier of your dialysis machine and solution know as early as possible. Peritoneal dialysis (PD) suppliers need at least two weeks to ship your supplies to your destination. Home hemodialysis (HHD) suppliers need at least four weeks to ship your supplies. If you are not sure how to place a travel order, your home nurse can help you.

2. Decrease distractions while you are setting up for your treatment. It’s easy to miss a step when someone is talking to you. Remember, it is your safety that’s at risk, and a good guest or host will understand.

3. If anyone is in the room while you are setting up your equipment, be sure to ask them to wear a mask and wash their hands. It’s important to keep a clean dialysis environment. This reduces your risk of peritonitis and vascular access infection.

4. For most home dialysis patients, potassium intake is not a problem. But with extra holiday goodies in your diet, you will need to pay more attention to the amount of potassium in your food. Enjoy small portions so you don’t go overboard. Your dietitian can assist you with a list of high-potassium foods to limit.

5. When thinking about sweet consumption, monitor your weight and blood pressure every day. Extra fluid can build up quickly.

6. Everyone has a fluid limit. If you’re not sure about yours, ask your dietitian or nurse.

7. Do not skip treatments. With jam-packed schedules and extra activities, it’s easy to get tired and be tempted to skip. Don’t do it! You will risk hospitalization for fluid overload or hyperkalemia (too much potassium in the blood). The last thing you want is to spend the holidays in the hospital.

Following these guidelines can help you enjoy a fun, happy and safe holiday season.