Advanced kidney disease that requires dialysis is a dangerous and distressing condition. In the past, dialysis used to require going to a specialist several times a week and spending hours on-site receiving treatment. Now, home kidney dialysis is also an option.
How Home Dialysis Works
Dialysis treatments require the use of a specialized machine designed to take over the work performed by a person's kidneys. During the treatment, two needles are placed in the patient's vein. The blood travels from the vein, into the needle, through plastic tubing, and to the dialysis machine. The dialysis machine clears the waste from the patient's blood, then moves it back into the body while simultaneously controlling temperature, pressure, fluid removal, and treatment time.
Home dialysis follows the same general steps. The difference is, the patient and his or her care partner must undergo training that allows them to perform the treatment alone. Those with chronic, advanced kidney disease may be able to receive training and access to home dialysis treatments by searching for Hospice Near Me.
The Three Types of Home Dialysis
There are three types of dialysis that can be performed at home, but not all of them are appropriate for every patient and condition. Patients should schedule consultations with their physicians to determine what type of home dialysis will be the best fit. They should discuss the following options.
1. Conventional Dialysis
Conventional home dialysis works the same way as traditional dialysis at a center. Patients must undergo treatment for a few hours at a time, three times per week.
2. Short Daily Dialysis
With short daily dialysis, patients only need to undergo two hours of treatment at a time. Shorter treatment times can help to reduce side effects such as headaches, nausea, cramping, and fatigue following conventional treatments since it requires less fluid removal. There's a trade-off, though. Patients must undergo short daily dialysis five to seven times per week.
3. Nocturnal Dialysis
Both conventional and short daily dialysis involves treating the patient while he or she is awake. With nocturnal dialysis, the patient undergoes treatment overnight. Schedules for nocturnal dialysis vary, but patients may undergo treatment every other night or as often as six nights per week. The treatment times are much longer, lasting from six to eight hours, but since the patient is asleep, they may also be less disruptive.
Who Is Eligible for Home Dialysis?
Home kidney dialysis is not a good solution for everyone. It requires substantial training, not just for the patient, but also for his or her care partner. The care partner can be either a family caregiver or a professional aide who comes to the patient's home for the dialysis treatments.
Patients undergoing home dialysis must also be committed to completing the intensive training program and ensuring sanitary conditions at home. He or she will also need to have good fine-motor coordination and eyesight for filling out paperwork and manipulating the tubing. Some of these tasks can also be performed by care partners.
Finally, patients will need to have enough space in their homes to house the dialysis equipment and supplies. In some cases, they will also need to make electrical or plumbing upgrades to accommodate home dialysis.
Hospice Can Help
Patients who are eligible for hospice care can get the help they need with determining eligibility and setting up home dialysis training and appointments through their hospice centers. Both patients and family caregivers can also contact a hospice center for information about how to recognize the signs that advanced kidney failure will require end-of-life care.