Being able to administer dialysis at home will be so much more convenient -- and comfortable -- than having to take your loved one to the hospital for dialysis two or three times per week. As a caregiver, you can go through training to safely and effectively administer the dialysis treatment to your loved one. But while this training is a good starting point, it does not always provide you with the finer tips that will make caregiving for a dialysis patient more manageable and less burdensome. Here are a few ways you can be a better caregiver with your home kidney dialysis machine.
Stock the fridge.
Dialysis patients have to follow pretty specific diets. They can't have foods with a lot of sodium in them, especially just before dialysis. Their doctor will probably give them a specific list of foods to avoid, and others to focus on. Make sure you grocery shop on a regular basis to ensure all of your loved one's favorites are in stock. You don't want them to be tempted by foods they can't have or make a dietary slipup because the fridge ran bare. Try to do the shopping the day or morning before your loved one's dialysis treatment so you don't have to leave them alone in the hours after their treatment.
Don't stop with your initial dialysis training course. Keep reading new books and attending seminars for caregivers. You'll continue to hone your techniques and pick up new tips.
Get plenty of rest.
The process of administering dialysis can be time-consuming and stressful. It's harder on the patient than it is on you -- so it's important that you maintain a positive attitude to help them make it through. You'll have an easier time maintaining your patience if you get plenty of rest. So go to bed an hour early the night before each treatment. If the stress of administering dialysis makes it hard for you to sleep, consider taking natural sleep aids, like melatonin.
Keep your hands well moisturized.
As soon as you start administering dialysis, you will realize why nurses love hand lotion so much. Washing your hands really dries them out. Dry, scratchy hands will bother the person you're caring for as much as they bother you. So find a truly effective hand lotion, and use it several times per day -- after each handwashing session. Stay away from scented hand lotions. Not only do they tend to be less effective, but the scents may also bother your loved one if they're feeling at all ill during their dialysis treatment.
After a while, each dialysis experience will start blending together. So you may not necessarily remember if there was a day you had a harder time getting the IV in, or which day your patient seemed more sick than usual. You never know what details may become important to the doctor, so take notes during every treatment session. Note how the patient was feeling, any issues you had during the administration, and how long the dialysis took from beginning to end.
Talk to your loved one during the insertion.
The insertion of the needle -- a process known as cannulation -- is the most stressful part of administering dialysis. You can distract your patient from this challenging part of the process by chatting with them as you do it. Earlier in the day, think about some topics you can bring up that will engage the patient. The further their mind is from what's actually happening, the better.
With the tips above, you can be a better caregiver for your loved one, and the dialysis process won't be as trying.