Five Summertime Activities for People on Dialysis

Summertime means something different to everyone. Perhaps you feel that the warm months call for slowing down and enjoying the simple things. Or maybe you see this as a time to go out exploring while the weather is temperate. Whichever way you see yourself spending the summer, there are many activities that you can do to enjoy a good quality of life on dialysis. Here are five summertime activities for you and your loved ones.

1. Go on a vacation

It can be grand or it can be small, but any way you slice it, a vacation is a means to getting away from it all. An overnight or weekend escape can be an enjoyable and affordable way to take in new surroundings. Visit a relative, go to a nearby city or try a country bed and breakfast. A small trip may not require as much planning as a lengthier vacation depending on your prescribed dialysis treatment. You could also plan a “staycation,” a buzz-worthy term that means taking a vacation at your home or in your surrounding neighborhood. Sometimes people rarely make time to explore their own town’s local attractions, but a staycation allows you to do just that. You can make your staycation anything you want it to be, as long as you’re relaxing and enjoying yourself.

If you’re looking to take a longer vacation, consider a dialysis cruise designed for patients to visit exotic lands with the ease and comfort of an onboard dialysis center. Doctors and nurses are there to administer care, and kidney-friendly meals are readily available to ensure you’re maintaining a healthy diet. Cruises go to the Caribbean, Alaska, New England, Europe, Hawaii and more.

Maybe staying on land is more ideal for you, but you still want to get away from it all. Consider major cities that have dialysis centers to cater to your needs.

Before any travel, big or small, a consultation with your healthcare team is necessary. If you dialyze in-center, you’ll need help scheduling treatment at the center near your destination. Home hemodialysis (HHD) patients can also schedule treatment at a center if they opt not to take their portable dialysis machine with them on vacation. For people who treat with peritoneal dialysis (PD), making arrangements for dialysis supplies to arrive at your destination should be done with the guidance of your healthcare team. It’s also important to communicate with insurance companies about your destination, especially if you plan to travel outside the U.S. Check out the travel checklist for people on dialysis for more information about planning a vacation.

2. Have a barbecue or summertime party

Inviting friends and family over for a cookout doesn’t have to be a lot of work. Have a potluck with kidney-friendly recipes that everyone can enjoy. Find creative ways to beat the heat. Purchase an inflatable kiddie pool for dipping your feet or for your children to play in, or get spray bottles filled with water for a quick way to cool off. Setting up large colorful umbrellas can bring a beachside feel to your backyard and promote more shade. Break out the horseshoes, badminton, croquet or bocce ball set, or keep it small with checkers and board games. Organize a block party if your neighborhood allows it.

3. Enjoy a street fair or music festival

Most towns have free summer festivals with live music and local flavor. Research your city’s website for up-to-date events and mark ones that spark your interest on your calendar. Pack some kidney-friendly snacks, a blanket and watch the show. Festivals are great ways to get some fresh air, enjoy the company of loved ones and meet new people from your neighborhood.

4. Movie night

Sometimes escaping the summer heat takes going to a cinema where the air conditioning is set to the max. If you want to purchase snacks at the movie counter, go for more kidney-friendly options. Ask for your popcorn to be salt-free and order a small bottle of water, lemonade or clear soda (like Sprite or 7-Up) to wash it down. If it’s candy you want, go for candy counter staples like Sour Patch Kids, Skittles, Air Heads, Mike and Ike, Starburst, Hot Tamales, Jolly Ranchers or Lemonhead candies. There is a more comprehensive list in the article, Kidney-Friendly Candy for Dialysis Patients.For those who would rather stay in, pop salt-free popcorn, gather healthy snacks, and invite friends and family to watch a Hollywood classic, musical, blockbuster or whatever movie genre you’re most keen on.

5. Take in the outdoors

Relax, slow down and be surrounded by nature. Sitting under a shady tree, fishing at a nearby lake or simply taking a walk can be a soothing way to spend a summer day. Grab a friend for a day trip to local hiking trails or a park. Or take advantage of the extra sunlight and start reading that bestseller you’ve been meaning to get around to on your porch. These ideas can be an inexpensive, easy and, above all, pleasant way to spend your summer days.

Tips for beating the summer elements when you’re on dialysis

Weather during the summer months can reach extremely high temperatures and it’s important to not overexert yourself. Talk with your healthcare team about their recommendations for staying safe including:

  • The types of outdoor exercises you want to do
  • How to maintain a healthy fluid balance but not overheat
  • The types of skin protection you should use to protect yourself against sun damage
  • Recommendations on eyewear for the summer months
  • Protection for your dialysis access when swimming or participating in other water-related activities
  • Tips on a kidney-friendly eating plan

Summer fun for dialysis patients

Being a dialysis patient doesn’t mean having to miss out on summer fun. Vacations, barbecues, movies, local festivals and outdoor pastimes are just some of the activities you can participate in this season.