Did you know that kidney disease kills more people each year than breast or prostate cancer?
This is why the National Kidney Foundation recommends that every person over the age of 60 be screened for kidney disease, which can develop slowly, without many symptoms, and progress to an advanced stage without people knowing. Awareness of this very common disease is considered the first step in both preventing and slowing the progression.
What do the kidneys do?
The kidneys, which are a part of the urinary system, function to filter the blood and help to remove wastes and excess fluid from the body, and also to help control the body’s chemical balance.
What is chronic kidney disease?
When your kidneys don’t work well for longer than 3 months, it is referred to in the medical community as chronic kidney disease.
What are the symptoms?
Most people with the early stages of kidney disease will not show any signs or symptoms. In fact, 1 in 7 adults have chronic kidney disease and most may not even know it.
It is important for you or your senior’s caregivers to be watchful for signs of damage to the kidneys while your parent is receiving elder care at home.
If your chronic kidney disease is already advanced, you may notice the following symptoms:
• Feeling consistently tired or short of breath
• Have puffiness around the eyes or swelling, especially in the ankles
• Lose your appetite and ability to taste some things
• Experience muscle cramps, usually in the legs
• Increased or decreased urination, sometimes with “foam”
• Nausea or vomiting
• Have dry, itchy skin
• Sleep issues
• Decrease in weight
Who is at risk?
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, more than 50 percent of elderly people over the age of 75 are believed to have kidney disease.
Risk factors for developing kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney stones, having a family history of kidney failure, and prolonged use of over-the-counter pain medications. Also just being over the age of 60 increases your chances for getting the disease.
Is it treatable?
For people with early to moderate kidney disease, management usually includes controlling factors such as blood pressure, diabetes if applicable, and other diseases that can adversely affect the function of the kidneys. They will also be advised to avoid medications that can cause further damage while their kidney function and electrolyte levels are closely monitored.
In more advanced stages of kidney disease, your senior and their doctor will carefully consider their preferences for quality of life as well as cognitive status when deciding the route of treatment to implement. In some cases, dialysis, which is a treatment that removes waste, salt, and excess water while keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in the blood, may be needed. Dialysis also helps to control blood pressure.
If you suspect that your senior or loved one may have issues concerning the use or function of their kidneys, talk to their health care practitioner to get a diagnosis and to learn tips for managing kidney issues while receiving elder care in their home.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elder Care in Highland Park, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.