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

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Your Care Instructions

Chronic kidney disease means that your kidneys cannot remove waste and keep your body's fluids and chemicals in balance. When you have kidney failure, you need to have dialysis to filter your blood. Or, you need a new kidney. For many people, dialysis or a kidney transplant helps them live better and longer. But other people may decide that they do not want these options.

You may have other health problems that make dialysis hard to do. Or your other health problems might mean you would not do well with dialysis or a kidney transplant. You also may decide that you are tired of treatments and that you just want to be comfortable. You have the right to end treatment when you want. You also can choose to still take medicine but not have dialysis or a transplant.

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 call line 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 call line if you have any problems with your medicine.
  • Seek support from family, friends, and your doctor. You also may want to join a support group or talk to a religious or other 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 whether and when hospice palliative care may help you. Hospice palliative care provides medical treatment, emotional help, and religious support when you are nearing the end of your life.

When should you call for help?

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

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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