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

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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 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 with your doctor. Be open and honest. 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 can help.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor 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 counselor.
  • If you have an advance directive, let your doctor know. It may include a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes if you become unable to speak for yourself.
  • Ask your doctor if hospice care may help you. Hospice care includes basic medical care with a focus on pain and symptom control. And it includes counseling 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 if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.