Dad’s failing kidneys: What might I expect with dialysis?

Posted by olig1 @olig1, Sep 16 5:22pm

I was just told that my fathers kidneys have dropped to 18% (they've held at 25% for many years) and dialysis and/or hospice are his choices. I would like to be educated on the rigors of dialysis. He has a type of cancer, myeloma, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, previous heart issues, fairly deaf (cochlear implant) and is 87 years old. He has aged so much over the last few years, we were blaming isolation of COVID, his only activity is reading, which is getting harder and his hearing, even with the implant, is getting worse so I know he has to feel isolated. 3 years ago he was golfing a couple of times a week. Now he is winded walking to the end of the driveway. I would just like to hear what some of the side effects are and what to expect with dialysis. Thank you so much for this forum.

@olig1 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. We are a caring group of patients/family members and caregivers who share our experiences. We are not medically trained, and cannot give advice.

It must be quite a surprise to hear the news about your dad, isn't it? There are several questions I have, so bear with me. Is he under active treatment for the multiple myeloma? If so, what medications is he taking, as those may cause a fluctuation in his kidney function. High blood pressure is one of the two leading causes of kidney disease, the other being diabetes. Is he taking high blood pressure medications? What has his medical team talked to you about; are you able to attend his appointments to understand what is being discussed?

Here is a link to a PDF from National Kidney Foundation about dialysis: https://www.kidney.org/sites/default/files/docs/11-10-0307_dialysistransitionbk2_oct07_lr_bm.pdf
There are basically two type of dialysis, in-center hemodialysis, and peritoneal dialysis [done at home each night] While each dialysis type has its own pros and cons, it is the decision of the patient. In some cases, a person may want peritoneal dialysis but due to previous abdominal surgeries/issues, may not be able to have a catheter placed.

It may be time to have a sit-down-very-frank-talk with your dad, and discuss what his wishes are. There are no easy decisions. And as you work through this emotionally yourself, please come back and ask any questions you have, lean on us, because we are all here to help how we might be able to.
Ginger

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