5 New Year’s Resolutions for Home Dialysis Patients

By Amy Rose, R.N.

January is the perfect time for every home dialysis patient to make five New Year’s resolutions that could lead to a healthier year ahead.

1. Eat right

kidney diet can help control the buildup of waste products and fluid in your blood. The main goals of a kidney diet are to keep you from building up too many toxins and too much fluid between dialysis treatments. In general, a kidney diet focuses on reducing phosphorus, potassium and salt intake. Depending on whether you do peritoneal dialysis (PD) or home hemodialysis (HHD) and depending on your lab results, you may be able to include certain foods in your diet. Make sure to consult your renal dietitian for specific instructions about your dietary needs. Most importantly, do your best to take your phosphorus binders every time you eat.

Some good dietary choices are:

  • White bread
  • Unsweetened, dry cereals
  • Cream of wheat
  • Noodles
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Fruit, canned
  • Lean meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Low-sodium cottage cheese
  • Low-fat cream cheese

Some dietary choices to limit or avoid are:

  • Chocolate milk
  • Bran cereals
  • Pancake mix
  • Cornbread mix
  • Salted snacks, such as corn chips or potato chips
  • Tomato sauce
  • Vegetable juice
  • Bacon
  • Luncheon meats
  • Hot dogs
  • Pepperoni

2. Exercise

No matter your situation, there are exercise options that can work for you. Getting in motion, even if it’s only for a short time every day, will help you to feel better, stronger and more in control of your life. Always remember to discuss exercise with your nephrologist and let him or her know if you are having difficulty.

Some suggestions for beginners are (aim for 15-20 minutes):

  • Point and flex your toes
  • Roll shoulders forward and backward
  • Lift your arms up high
  • Tilt head from side to side
  • Touch your toes

Some suggestions for intermediates are (aim for 20-30 minutes):

  • Walk up a flight of stairs
  • Park car farther away from store or house
  • Go for a walk
  • Rake leaves
  • Clean out a closet
  • Mop or sweep a floor

3. Stop smoking

If you smoke, stop. Many studies have shown that it is a very unhealthy habit to have, but smoking is even more dangerous to dialysis patients because of your delicate vascular system. Your arteries are like a rubber band. They expand and contract drastically each time you smoke or are around passive smoke. Many home dialysis patients have hardening and calcification of the arteries because of rapid weight gains and losses and poor phosphorus control. When you smoke and your arteries cannot expand and contract, it causes a temporary raising and lowering of your blood pressure. This in turn causes stress on your heart. The stress on your heart may manifest as chest pain, shortness of breath, heart attack and/or stroke. There is no time like the present to kick the habit.

4. Learn more about your health condition

Kidney disease is one of the most overlooked and under-scrutinized diseases. Did you know that there are actually five functions your kidneys perform? Kidneys remove fluid, remove waste, produce renin, maintain calcium/phosphorus balance and produce erythropoietin. If these concepts are unfamiliar to you, get out your training manual and review the functions of the kidney. If you cannot locate your training manual, contact your local home dialysis nurse. People who are well educated about their health condition and involved in their care often have better clinical outcomes.

5. Have fun

Having fun is a great way to get out of the house and help avoid depression. There are many activities you can do or ways to give back to the community, no matter your skill or ability level. The possibilities are endless.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Enroll in a cooking class
  • Take a vacation
  • Join an online dialysis message board
  • Check out Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) at www.dialysispatients.org
  • Have a poker night with friends
  • Learn to play a musical instrument
  • Help your center plan a patient party
  • Take up sewing
  • Enroll in an art class to learn scrap-booking or painting
  • Go bird-watching
  • Learn to fish
  • Offer to baby-sit for a relative or friend
  • Collect coins
  • Join a YMCA


This year, make it your resolution to eat right, exercise, stop smoking, learn about your health condition and have some fun. You’ll be happy you did.

About Amy Rose

Amy Rose is a home hemodialysis training nurse at White Oak DaVita at Home in Cincinnati, OH, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for her patients. She is married and has one daughter.