Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  When You Decide Not to Treat Chronic Kidney Disease: Care Instructions

Main Content

When You Decide Not to Treat Chronic Kidney Disease: Care Instructions


Chronic kidney disease means that your kidneys can no longer do their jobs well. They can't remove waste from your blood. And they aren't able to balance your body's fluids and chemicals. When the kidneys fail, many people choose dialysis or a kidney transplant. These treatments can help them live better and longer. But other people decide that they do not want these treatments.

In some cases, other health problems mean you wouldn't do well with dialysis or a kidney transplant. You may also decide that you are tired of treatments and you just want to be comfortable.

You have the right to choose what is best for you. If you decide you don't want dialysis or a transplant, you can still work with your doctor to take medicine to control symptoms.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Talk openly and honestly with your doctor. This is the best way to understand the decisions you will need to make as your health changes. Know that you can always change your mind.
  • If you think you are depressed, ask your doctor for help. Depression can make it hard to think clearly and make decisions. Treatment for depression can help you to focus on your health and making decisions for your future.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed if you choose to continue taking medicine. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems with your medicine.
  • Get support from family, friends, and your doctor. You also may want to join a support group. Or you may want to talk to a counsellor.
  • If you have not already done so, prepare an advance care plan. An advance care plan provides instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.
  • Ask your doctor if hospice palliative care may help you. Hospice palliative care includes basic medical care with a focus on pain and symptom control. And it includes counselling and support for you and your family.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter V170 in the search box to learn more about "When You Decide Not to Treat Chronic Kidney Disease: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.