Maintaining Kidney Health in Older Adults

Maintaining-Kidney-Health-in-the-Elderly-Blog_Image_1200x628.jpgOne of the most important aspects of maintaining good health as you age is taking care of your kidneys. As you get older, your kidneys may not work as well as they used to, so it’s important to take steps to keep them healthy. 

There are several things you can do to protect your kidneys and keep them functioning at their best. Read on to learn more about the important role of kidneys and how to help preserve these vital organs. 

By the Numbers 

According to a study posted by the National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease is on the rise in seniors in the US. More than 59 percent of older adults are at risk for developing kidney disease, with many currently unknowingly suffering from the disease. What’s the answer to this rise? Prevention, testing, and treatment. Early diagnosis of kidney disease is key to prevent or slow the progression. Screenings for protein in the urine help doctors ascertain early onset of kidney disease so that a treatment plan can be put in place.  

The Power of Your Kidneys 

Kidneys are some of the most important organs in the human body. They do a lot of work, including filtering blood, balancing fluids, and minerals, and producing urine. Without functioning kidneys, the body would not be able to survive. Here's a closer look at what kidneys do:  

  • Kidneys filter the blood, removing waste products and excess fluid. This helps to keep the body healthy by getting rid of toxins and ensuring that the right balance of minerals is maintained.  

  • Kidneys also produce urine, which is how the body gets rid of extra fluid and waste products. Urine is made up of water, urea (a by-product of protein digestion), electrolytes, and other dissolved substances.  

  • Kidneys are important for maintaining blood pressure and keeping the body's fluid levels in balance.  

The Danger of Failing Kidneys 

When kidneys don't function properly, it can lead to a number of health problems. For example, high blood pressure, fluid retention, and an imbalance of minerals can all occur when the kidneys are not working correctly.  

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor and get your kidneys checked. Untreated kidney problems can lead to serious health complications. 

Chronic Kidney Disease  

Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition that results in gradual loss of kidney function. It can lead to various health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure and anemia. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to help prevent further damage to the kidneys and maintain good health. Treatment for chronic kidney disease typically includes medications and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. For some people with end stage kidney disease, dialysis or a kidney transplant may also be needed. 

Symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease 

There are many symptoms of chronic kidney disease that people may not be aware of. Some of these symptoms include: 

  • Feeling tired and weak all the time 

  • Having trouble sleeping 

  • Experiencing nausea and vomiting 

  • Having a poor appetite and losing weight without trying 

  • Itching, especially over the entire body 

  • Persistent thirst and drinking lots of fluids 

  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling confused 

Tips for Safeguarding Your Kidney Health as You Age 

No one wants to think about the possibility of health problems as they age, but it’s important to be proactive about taking care of your health so you can enjoy a long and healthy life. If you have concerns about your kidney health, here are some tips to help safeguard your kidneys: 

  • Staying hydrated. The more fluids you drink, the easier it is for your kidneys to do their job. Make sure to drink plenty of water and other hydrating beverages throughout the day. 

  • Eating a healthy diet. A balanced diet is key to maintaining kidney health. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and stay away from processed foods and sugary drinks. 

  • Limiting your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can be hard on the kidneys, so try to limit your daily intake to no more than 300 mg. 

  • Exercising regularly. Exercise is good for overall health, and it’s also good for the kidneys. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. 

  • Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are both risk factors for kidney disease. If you have either of these conditions, be sure to monitor them closely and talk to your doctor about ways to manage them. 

  • Managing diabetes. If not taken care of properly, diabetes can also lead to kidney disease or failure. High sugar levels overwork the delicate structures of the kidney. 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. Losing excess weight unburdens your kidneys from the amount of waste filtering they must do. Being overweight increases your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes which have both been shown to cause kidney disease.  

  • Quitting smoking. Since smoking slows blood flow to vital organs, it can worsen kidney disease

  • Reducing your intake of salt and sugar. Elderly people have a high prevalence of salt-sensitivity which can alter how the body excretes it and can raise blood pressure as can sugar.  

  • Taking medication as prescribed. If you’re taking medication for kidney problems, make sure to take it exactly as prescribed by your doctor. 

  • See your doctor regularly. Regular checkups with your doctor are a good way to catch any potential health problems early on. If you have any concerns about your kidney health, be sure to talk to your doctor. 

Maintaining kidney health is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for seniors. By following these tips, you can protect your kidneys and stay healthy well into old age. 

How BrightStar Care Can Help 

Enlist our professional caregivers to support your loved ones in the comfort of their own home with our professional home care services, and let our nurses help them stay on track with their prescribed kidney-care routine. Contact BrightStar Care today to learn more about our professional care teams—your family is our family!