Giving the patient more control over their life
Barbara Wallace and Eileen Phelan,
Renal Dialysis Nurses http://www.irishholidaydialysis.ie
No other chronic illness in today’s society requires as many diet and fluid restrictions and medication, or as large a dependence on complex machinery for life as for those with end stage renal failure.
Dialysis is a life changing experience requiring considerable changes to adapt to a ‘new normal’ – where the gap between quality of life and mental health ‘before’ and ‘on’ dialysis can be huge. For the majority of patients, the treatment and associated travel time effectively consume nearly half of any given week with adverse effects on family and social life.
Reducing the dialysis burden and reaching an optimum level of independence is the key to improving quality of life. A primary measure is giving the patient more control over their life by having a choice of where and what type of dialysis to have i.e. home or hospital based treatment.
Looking after physical health helps sufferers to cope with the stresses of dialysis life and prepare for possible transplantation – a healthy diet, adequate sleep and fitness as well as managing anaemia and other health issues are very important.
The redemptive power of spending quality time with loved ones in a stress-free environment has well recognised physical and psychological health benefits. This is even more important in the dialysis population, where travel is possible but requires an extra degree of planning.
Life with end stage renal failure does not have to mean life without quality.