Family game night is a popular pastime with board games that invite players to engage a variety of strategies and goals in order to win. Oddly enough, comparisons may be easily drawn between people’s experience of board games and their experience with various kinds of illnesses.
When patients experience end-stage renal failure, it’s not like playing Jenga, where the wrong piece causes the entire house to collapse (Jenga is more like heart failure in that way). Neither is end-stage renal failure like Risk, where the object is to move invading forces into foreign lands (Risk is more like a cancer diagnosis). Instead, end-stage renal failure is very much like playing a long-running game of “Sorry!”
Understanding Chronic Kidney Failure
Kidney disease is usually a chronic problem (although there are many patients who suffer from acute kidney failure in response to injury or poison). Chronic kidney failure is the gradual loss of kidney function due to other problems like hypertension and diabetes, and in this way, similar to a player involved in a round of Sorry!. The game asks players to roll dice and move a pawn a certain number of squares. Yet, if another player lands their pawn on the same square as yours, sorry(!), your piece must return to the starting square. So it is with chronic kidney disease. When one physical problem is resolved, often you’ll hear “sorry!” as a vascular problem, heart condition, etc. crop up, taking you back to the illness you never wanted to begin with. That is, perhaps why end stage renal disease can be such a difficult place to be for patients.
Aside from the sorrow at reaching the end stages of illness and life, end-stage renal disease is often the result of countless attempts to resolve the disease and endless sorry! returns. Renal patients have often held their breath, anticipating a resolution to their problem only to face the final insult: the end has come and there’s nothing more that medical science can do. What then?
Support is Available
The good news is that hospice and palliative care for kidney disease patients are available for patients to manage symptoms and prepare for the end of life. Hospice and palliative care providers will not say, “sorry!” Instead, they will arrive to help at every step of the “game,” helping renal patients manage symptoms and achieve end-of-life goals with comfort and dignity.
Hospice Care for Renal Patients
When pursuing hospice care for kidney failure/renal failure patients, hospice providers are invited to join the care team for renal patients when patients have approximately 6 months or less to live (palliative care, on the other hand, is available to all patients at any stage of disease or injury, regardless of prognosis). Patient prognosis often has to do with how much total kidney function remains to clear toxins from the bloodstream, which will be reduced accordingly when patients choose to cease kidney dialysis treatments.
A hospice care team will help patients and their loved ones set goals for both symptom management and quality of life. Hospice and palliative care patients tend to have their needs met best because their caregivers know how to ask important questions about their preferences.
What Will Hospice Do For Me?
On the whole, patients who receive hospice and palliative care service have a measurably higher quality of life. Specifically, hospice will help manage pain and other uncomfortable symptoms as renal disease progresses. Symptoms may include fatigue, itching, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite. There are treatment and medication options available through hospice to diminish these symptoms and keep patients physically comfortable.
When patients are comfortable, they can participate in daily decision-making and remain in control for longer. Among the unique benefits of hospice care for renal patients includes options about where to receive care up until the very end of life – and that includes care at home.
How the Process Works
The hospice team will be able to come by an individual’s home and update their plan of care as well as assist accompanying loved ones who help. Hospice and palliative care providers often take responsibility for educating patient caregivers in providing treatments and administering medications for symptom management, meaning quality patient care is achieved from both professionals and loved ones alike. As patients experience decline toward the very end of life, the patient can rest assured that the hospice team will provide emotional support and decision making guidance for their loved ones.
Main Benefits of Hospice Care
Patients suffering from all sorts of life-limited illnesses, including renal failure, benefit greatly from hospice care. Hospice and palliative care teams work hard to provide comfort care which includes all aspects of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being for the patient and accompanying loved ones. This kind of personal attention results in both therapeutic and interpersonal care that dramatically increases quality of life up until the patient’s passing and beyond with care for the family and friends who remain.
Hospice providers advocate for those they serve, paying attention and responding to the comprehensive needs of patients and their families in the most difficult transition of life.
Contact Harbor Light Hospice for Support
For more information about how hospice care benefits kidney/renal failure patients, please contact Harbor Light Hospice online or call one of our locations today. We are ready to help you or your loved one during this difficult time.