Coping With Kidney Disease As A Caregiver, And How To Prevent Burn-Out

A recent study shed some new light on older patients with end stage kidney disease. These patients are those who have lost the ability to function independently after starting dialysis resulting in challenges for them and their caregivers.

Serving as filters for the blood, the kidneys are critical to removing waste and toxins from the bloodstream and allowing it to be disposed of through urine. The continuous loss of the ability to do so is a condition called chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The researchers looked at 187 adults, most of whom were around the age of 75, with one-third of them being women. They received a geriatric assessment and frailty screening and were given a questionnaire. They would receive another questionnaire six months later. The questionnaires focused on basic and instrumental activities of daily living and functional decline was deemed the loss of one or more of these areas.

These areas included shopping, housecleaning and preparing meals. Additionally, they looked at improvements and that was shown in gains in these areas. Caregivers were also assessed via questionnaires at the beginning and at 6 months. Researchers found in six months, 40% of patients had declined in their functional status.

In addition, 8% died and 34% maintained stability, while 18% improved. Caregivers reported higher levels of an increase in burden going from 23% to 38% in the six months. Researchers said while an increasing number of older adults are being put on dialysis for CKD, experts are not sure about how the patient will continue to live after dialysis.

Questions whether they will improve and how or decline and how remain unknown. Researchers also noted there is not a great deal of information on how the disease and the requirements of being a caregiver affect the caregiver. At the end of the study, they noted the burden of being a caregiver is associated with a decrease in their quality of life.

The caregiver begins to experience more symptoms of depression which can have a detrimental effect on them as well. They note the caregiver’s burden must be reduced at every opportunity. Some of the best ways to do this include scheduling some alone time to “recharge” which is absolutely not allowed to be infringed upon by any outside intrusion, even if it’s just a half hour, these breaks can help to preserve your sanity. Additionally, adopting a relaxing past-time such as meditation or seeking hypnosis, traditional therapy, other modalities, etc. can go a long way to helping caretakers prevent burn-out and ensure their charges avoid negative impacts as well.

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