Taking Care of Yourself
If you’re providing care to someone on dialysis it’s important to note that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The social worker in the dialysis center can provide you with information and resources. If it gets to be too much, don’t rule out talking to a trained mental health counselor. Counselors are trained to listen, be non-judgmental, and help people to problem solve everyday problems and crises. Conversations with counselors are strictly confidential so you can share your feelings freely.
Eat Healthy & Get Some Sleep
Your best chance of staying healthy yourself is to treat your body well. This means:
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid high-fat, high-salt, or fast foods.
- Add some exercise into your day; check with your doctor for some safe suggestions.
- Aim to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
The build-your-own salad bar at the grocery store offers healthy food choices for you and your loved one on a renal-friendly meal plan that are just as quick as fast food. Try cooking a big batch or two of healthy meals on a weekend or evening and freezing meal-sized portions for the week. A friend or church or volunteer group may be willing to cook for you, and you could provide recipes to be sure that the meals will suit a dialysis meal plan.
Check out our Recipe Center for some quick dialysis-friendly meal ideas that you and your family will enjoy.
There may be certain times of day when you have much more work caregiving than other times. This might be meal times, bath time, or getting into and out of bed at the start and end of the day. If these times are predictable, you might think about asking a family member or friend to help. Or, you might:
- Hire someone to come in for an hour or two at those times of day to ease the burdens on you.
- Bring in a home nurse or physical therapist to provide some services if there is a skilled health need at home.
- Find a home health agency to send a home health aide for a few hours to help with bathing, dressing, getting meals, cleaning the bedroom and bathroom, and sometimes even running errands.
There may be help from your state to pay for a helper if your family has limited income and resources. Medicare may cover some home-based services if there is a skilled health need at home. Or, some Medigap plans and other health insurance will help pay for care at home. The dialysis center social worker may be able to suggest ways to get help at home.
Do what you can to build in breaks for yourself when you can get away from caregiving and do something just for you:
- Read a book.
- Take a bath.
- Call a friend and talk about something other than your loved one.
You may find that dialysis time becomes a break time for you, even if you stay in the waiting room of the dialysis facility. You could bring along a craft project to do or a magazine to read. Or, perhaps a family member, friend, or community group offers respite care so you can get away for a day or an evening. It’s important for your mental health to take these breaks even if you have to force yourself to do it.