Risks of Dialysis in Elderly:
When an adult’s kidneys stop working, they may need dialysis treatment. Dialysis, which is also called “renal replacement therapy,” is a way to get rid of waste in the blood. For older people, a kidney failure prognosis without dialysis is impossible to predict because it depends on many things, such as other diseases. That’s why it’s important to talk to doctors and loved ones about whether or not to start dialysis or when it might be time to stop. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of dialysis for older people in this post.
Effects of dialysis on older people
There are a lot of risks that come with dialysis for older adults, but a lot of them can be kept in check. Here are a few things that can happen when older people get kidney dialysis.
- Issues with closing
- Itchy or dry skin
- low blood pressure
- Restless Leg Syndrome or muscle cramps
- Nutritional deficiencies
Side effects like nausea and low blood pressure can be treated with over-the-counter medicines and by drinking enough water. For the aches and pains that come with dialysis, seniors should also go for walks or use a heating pad. You should always talk to a doctor about prescription drugs and other care.
But how long can a senior live with dialysis? We’ll talk more about that in the next part.
How long can dialysis patients expect to live?
How long a person with kidney dialysis can live depends on their other health problems and how well they follow their treatment plan. The average life expectancy is between 5 and 10 years, but many people live 20 or 30 years after starting dialysis. Talk to your doctor or nurse about how to stay healthy while you’re on dialysis.
But the older a person is when they start dialysis, the more likely they are to die. From the U.S. Renal Data System, here are some numbers.
- Seniors aged 70–74 live an average of 3.6 years longer than their healthy peers, who live 12.2 years.
- Seniors aged 75–79 live an average of 3.1 years longer than their healthy peers, who live 9.2 years.
- On average, 80-85-year-olds only live for 2.5 years, while their healthy peers live for 6.7 years.
- On average, 85-year-olds and up only live two years, while their healthy peers live 3.5 years.
The above numbers may make someone want to start dialysis, but there are also a number of things that can make someone want to stop it. In the next section, we’ll talk about when dialysis should stop for older people.
Getting older people off dialysis
Dialysis can help keep people alive, but it can’t do everything. Using dialysis to live longer may actually make it take longer for some people to die. If that’s the case, the patient and/or the person taking care of them should decide what to do. Here are some reasons why someone might want to stop dialysis.
- The patient has diseases that can’t be cured, like cancer or diabetes.
- The person is sick with a disease that will leave them with a lot of disabilities if they live.
- The patient has a problem with his or her brain, like dementia.
Patients shouldn’t stop dialysis if they can live a long and happy life, but if they have other problems that keep them from doing that, they may wonder if it’s the right choice to keep going. For some people, it may be better to die of kidney failure than to wait for cancer, a stroke, or another illness to kill them. For help making the right choice, patients should talk to their doctors, nurses, and loved ones.
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