6 Ways to Maintain Healthy Relationships While on Dialysis

  • woman sitting in infusion chair with tablet
    Living a Full Life While on Dialysis
    Dialysis requires lifestyle changes that will involve your whole family. The rigors of dialysis can also affect your social life. People who care about you may not know how to best help you, and you may worry about becoming a burden to them. There are many challenges to maintaining relationships while on dialysis. Here are six ways to keep your relationships strong and healthy while on dialysis.
  • senior-couple-at-doctor-visit
    1. Choose the right type of dialysis.
    You and your doctor will consider many things when deciding on the best type of dialysis for you. Home dialysis can offer more flexibility and time to spend with loved ones. It can also be stressful. It is important to consider your main support person because caregivers must complete 3 to 4 weeks of training. They also have some responsibility for treatments and watching your health. For some relationships, having treatments in a dialysis center is a better choice.
  • African American woman in conversation with friend on couch
    2. Talk frankly about your needs.
    Your loved ones probably want to help. But sometimes well-meaning help isn’t helpful at all. It can be difficult for family and friends to know exactly what kind of help you need and when you need it. Discuss your needs and wishes openly. Tell them when you need to rest, have some company, or be alone. Being upfront about your needs may seem awkward, but it will help everyone feel more comfortable together.
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    3. Plan special time together.
    Spending time together is important to maintaining relationships. It strengthens bonds and creates memories. Plan regular activities around your dialysis schedule. Pick things you enjoy doing together, such as watching movies, walking, or taking the kids or grandkids to the park. Don’t miss holiday celebrations and family events due to your treatments. Sharing your schedule with family and friends can help you all be together for these special times.
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    4. Ensure your finances are in order.
    Finances are a common source of stress in any relationship. Make a plan with your spouse or partner right away for handling finances. Your dialysis care team is a good resource. They can provide information and resources about paying for dialysis and even help with paperwork. You will likely qualify for Medicare coverage for treatment costs. Pay attention to specific details regarding eligibility and timelines. Talk with your kidney care social worker to find out about Medicare coverage and how it works with your regular insurance.
  • Friends enjoying lunch outdoors
    5. Address your dietary needs.
    The dietary restrictions of dialysis can put a damper on social get-togethers. You may need to limit or avoid many foods that are commonly served at weddings, sporting events, and parties. This can lead to feelings of isolation, even a desire to avoid social gatherings. Share you dietary needs with your host ahead of time. Offer to bring a tasty dialysis-friendly dish to share. Ask your dietitian to help you with recipes and choosing foods you enjoy.
  • smiling African American senior woman standing outside with arms crossed in front of blue sky
    6. Take good care of yourself—get outdoors!
    Staying as healthy as you can will help you be an active member of your family and social circle. Stick to your dialysis schedule, take your medications, and follow your diet. Stay active when possible and get extra rest if you need it. Tell your doctor or dialysis care team right away if you have concerns or notice a change in how you feel.
6 Ways to Maintain Healthy Relationships While on Dialysis

About The Author

  1. Coping Effectively: A Guide for Patients and Their Families. National Kidney Foundation.  https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/parentcoping.cfm
  2. Dialysis. National Kidney Foundation. http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/dialysisinfo.cfm
  3. Emotional and Family Support. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. http://www.bidmc.org/Centers-and-Departments/Departments/Transplant-Institute/Dialysis-Access-Center...
  4. A “New Normal:" Life on Dialysis -- The First 90 Days. National Kidney Foundation, 2007. https://www.kidney.org/patients/peers/pdf/11-10-0307_DialysisTransitionBk2_Oct07_LR_bm.pdf
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 6
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.