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Lifestyle Changes

20 Tips for a Good Life When You Have Kidney Disease

Your life may be different when you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), but you can still enjoy it. Taking things one step at a time may help. Below are 20 tips to help you enjoy a good life as your lifestyle changes:

  1. Learn all you can about kidney disease  and especially your own condition. Work with your care team to find out how the information applies to you. Talk to other people and ask questions, read, attend Kidney Smart Classes, or listen to tapes and videos.
  2. Know that you can do this! There are people and resources to help you become a partner in your care to help you live long and well with CKD.
  3. Learn about your medications, their proper dosages, names and the purpose of each one.
  4. Track your lab test values over time and learn what they mean. While your health care team knows a lot about kidney disease, you are the expert on you.
  5. If you don't understand something, or if something seems wrong, speak up. Talk with your doctor. Ask questions. Find out what you can do to improve your health.
  6. Find out the  symptoms of CKD and report your them to your doctor.
  7. Work with your health care team to determine good  kidney-friendly dietary guidelines.
  8. Exercise regularly and sensibly.
  9. Stay employed. Even if you have to take some time off work to adjust to a new situation, try to work part-time or full-time. Learn about the Americans with Disabilities Act and your right to keep your job if you should ever need to go on dialysis.
  10. Research and plan for medical insurance and other financial considerations. Resources such as medical social workers, kidney patient organizations, Medicare and your state insurance bureau can help.
  11. Find out what your target blood pressure should be and work with your doctor to do what you must to keep it there.
  12. If you have  diabetes, blood sugar control can help slow the progression of kidney disease.
  13. Be aware of the possible complications of kidney disease, including:  anemia, metabolic acidosis,  bone disease,  cardiovascular disease,  fluid overload, high  potassium and phosphorus  and others. Each of these can be detected with the right tests, plus there's a lot you can do to avoid the complications if you learn what to look for.
  14. If your kidney disease is severe, understand your treatment options, from home dialysis to transplant.
  15. Visit a dialysis center. Call DaVita Guest Services at 1-800-244-0680 to arrange a visit.
  16. If you're on  dialysis, do all of the treatments your doctor orders so you can try to feel your best.
  17. If you have a transplant, take all your medications on schedule. Watch for any signs of infection, rejection, or other illness.
  18. Pay attention to  your emotions. Give yourself time to adjust and feel in control again. You may be dealing with uncertainty about the future or with changes in your lifestyle and relationships—these are normal feelings.
  19. Ask for help when you need it. Talk to your family and friends, to other kidney patients, to your clergy or to your health care team.
  20. Cultivate an appreciation of life; do those things that are most meaningful and bring you the most joy.

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