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The quality of life for patients undergoing dialysis treatments can often seem compromised and without benefit due to seemingly endless trips to dialysis centers and an increased strain due to an increased strain on their personal lives. Leisure time and simply feeling well enough to keep up with day-to-day responsibilities may seem to be things of the past. Families and friends of dialysis patients also often express dismay at the extra expenses and time-consuming center visits.
Because of these issues, more and more patients are turning to home dialysis. In correlation, the types of home dialysis treatment have become more user-friendly, making it easier for patients to dialyze at home. Peritoneal dialysis (PD) and home hemodialysis (HHD) are two options available to people with end stage renal disease (ESRD) who are looking for greater flexibility and control of their treatments and lifestyles.
When it comes to distinguishing between these two treatment modalities, it's hard to say which one is better. The answer depends on each patient's lifestyle, particular medical needs and what his or her medical team feels is right. Patients seriously considering home dialysis should meet with their doctors and family members to determine which method works best for them.
People who choose to dialyze in the comfort of their own homes do so more frequently and for shorter periods of time. Frequent dialysis more closely mimics the natural functions of the kidneys, with less waste and fluid building up in the body between treatments. The increased frequency has contributed to lower mortality rates, fewer negative side effects and more favorable results overall. And because patients can perform dialysis on their own schedules, they receive the health benefits of daily treatments without missing out on the rest of their lives.
When patients spend numerous hours a day in a dialysis center, it's inevitable that they miss out on time with their family and friends, their hobbies or whatever it is they love to do in their free time. Home dialysis changes that. Patients on home dialysis can use their treatment time to surf the Internet, play games with their grandchildren, watch their favorite TV shows, pay bills, study for class, talk to friends on the phone and more. Home dialysis patients have more freedom during their days and are able to live more normal lives. Also, a change of scenery — from in-center dialysis to home dialysis — can help make treatments more enjoyable and comfortable.
Patients with ESRD who choose home dialysis benefit from a reduction in the amount of driving that they do and thus save money each month on expenses, such as gasoline and auto maintenance. While it might not seem significant, these little savings add up. In addition, most private insurance plans make coverage available to qualified patients who choose to do home dialysis. Qualified patients can also take advantage of Medicare coverage.
Patients who choose home dialysis often learn more about their disease than those who choose to do in-center dialysis because they are more directly involved in their treatments. This newly-gained knowledge and control over their health conditions often leads to less fear and depression and a more positive outlook on the future. Patients who take on their dialysis get an up-close and personal look at their illness and their treatment, and this often leads to healthier patients who are excellent monitors of their own bodies and health conditions.
The benefit of improved quality of life is actually an accumulation of all the benefits that come with doing home dialysis. When patients make the transition from in-center dialysis to home dialysis, they generally see improved outcomes overall, have more free time, save money and gain a deeper understanding of their health conditions. In short, people on home dialysis enjoy a newfound control over their treatments, their health, their time, and their lives. These individual benefits add up and result in an improved quality of life.
In short, home dialysis is growing in popularity due to the flexibility and benefits it brings to patients’ lives. Patients interested in home dialysis should talk to their healthcare teams today about getting started.
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