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6 Tips for Managing Your Home Dialysis Lifestyle

By Shelly Crumley, LCSW

Adapted from DaVita® LifeLines At Home Newsletter

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.

As someone with kidney disease, you know firsthand that life on dialysis — even home dialysis — can be challenging. And people on peritoneal dialysis (PD) or home hemodialysis (HHD) are not exempt from hectic day-to-day stress. It’s tough for everyone to get daily tasks done, and trying to fit in manual PD exchanges or HHD treatments every day can be taxing and frustrating. Hooking up to the PD cycler each night may be a challenge for someone who has a typical day that starts early in the morning and lasts into the night.

Even so, there is no getting around the fact that the foundation of good dialysis (also known as adequate dialysis) is the completion of each treatment. Missing or shortening the dialysis treatment, even by a few minutes, can negatively impact the overall success of dialysis. Successful dialysis leads to improved health and quality of life.

What adequate PD/HHD looks like:

What inadequate PD/HHD looks like:

You feel good overall

You feel poorly overall

You have more energy

You feel weak

You have a good appetite

You have a poor appetite

You sleep well

You have difficulty sleeping

You have the ability to think clearly

You have trouble concentrating

Lifestyle tips for home dialysis patients

Here are six tips that can help you integrate home dialysis into your lifestyle.

  1. Make choices about what is important in your life each day.
  2. Be realistic about what you want and what you can do by eliminating things that don’t fit.
  3. Participate in the “yes/no” philosophy. If you say “yes” to a new activity, then you may need to say “no” to an existing activity for which you will no longer have time.
  4. Multitask when possible. During PD cycler or short daily HHD treatments you can work on the computer, complete some crafts/hobbies or study.
  5. Use shortcuts when you can. A shortcut refers to a technique that makes life easier, such as eating kidney-friendly pre-made foods (don’t forget your phosphorus binders) to cut down on meal prep time and using a mail order pharmacy, such as DaVita Rx®, to cut down on time spent going to the pharmacy. You can gather all the supplies that you will need for your treatment in the mornings before going out for the day to speed up your hook-up process in the evenings or once you're home. Note: Shortcuts do not refer to shortening or missing the dialysis treatments or skipping safety and infection control procedures needed for home dialysis therapy.)
  6. Move slowly and stay the course. When feeling overwhelmed, slow down, sit down, calm down and wind down with stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, mental imagery, calming visualization, exercising, making to-do lists and reassessing priorities.

You can enjoy more aspects of your life when you’re on home dialysis. Use the six tips provided here so you can finish the things you need to do in addition to getting the adequate dialysis you need for a better quality of life.

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