Impact on Family
The impact kidney disease and dialysis treatment can have on a family ranges from your daily routine to your interpersonal relationships. Some changes may bring you and your family closer and help everyone see what is really important. Others may cause stress and friction. Being prepared can help make it easier to deal with changes. Here are some of the areas where you may notice changes:
- Time management can be an issue. If your loved one chooses in-center hemodialysis, being at the center three days or nights a week can add a time crunch. Somehow, you will still need to fit in other life activities that can’t stop, like buying groceries, cooking and cleaning, and paying the bills. It can take a few weeks to figure out a schedule that works for your family.
- Meal preparation may need to be adjusted to fit renal diet needs. The dietitian may recommend limits on potassium, phosphorus, sodium (salt), and fluids. Figuring out what to eat can be a big challenge. Fixing two different meals can be exhausting and may not be necessary if everyone can be flexible. Some easy ideas to consider include using more spices and herbs in place of salt, and having “build your own” meals (e.g., salad, pizza, tacos) where each family member can add ingredients to their own plate.
- Family roles and finances may change. Most dialysis patients need treatment for anemia, a shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells that can make them feel tired and weak. If your loved one can’t do chores he or she used to do, someone else will need to take them on or trade chores. If your loved one was the main wage earner and can’t work, your family will need to figure a way to live on less money, or you may need to go to work or increase your hours if you work part time.