With every new year comes the opportunity for a fresh start. But with a whole year ahead and so many resolutions to choose from, it can be hard to pick and harder to follow through. Here are four ideas to help kidney patients start the new year on the right foot.
1. Going to appointments
Patients with kidney disease must keep their doctor’s appointments. Unfortunately, forgetting about your doctor’s appointment or lack of transportation are common barriers that may make it difficult.
Try using these tips to get you back on track:
- Buddy system: Ask a trustworthy friend or family member to be your appointment buddy. Give them your schedule and ask them to text you a few hours before your appointment.
- Digital reminders: Most phones have a built-in calendar and reminder apps. As soon as you get your appointment time, make a reminder in one of these apps.
- Notes: A few days before the appointment, write down all the information you’ll need and tape it to a place you frequent, like a bathroom mirror or near your phone charger.
- Transportation assistance: If you can’t physically get to your appointments, help is out there. Your social worker or local Agency for the Aging can provide you with resources or information on local transportation services.
2. Following nutritional guidelines
Many people with kidney diseases need to limit sodium, potassium, protein, and phosphorus. Following kidney-friendly nutritional guidelines can be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity to get creative with food. Remember, every patient is different, so speak with your healthcare team before making significant changes to your diet. You may have special restrictions to consider.
Here are four kidney-friendly meal tips:
Sodium: Use fresh garlic and onions, garlic and onion powder, black pepper, lemon juice, and vinegar over table salt.
Potassium: Remove some potassium out of foods by peeling, cutting, rinsing, and soaking it in warm water for two hours. After that, give it another rinse and cook using five times the amount of water you’d typically use.
Protein: Replace animal protein like beef and fish and dairy with plant protein (legumes, nuts, soy, tofu, or grains) at a meal.
Phosphorus: Many processed foods use phosphorus additives, which the body completely absorbs. This additive on food labels can be found by scanning for “PHOS.”
3. Taking medicine
According to an American Journal of Kidney Disease study, lower medication adherence is associated with adverse safety events in individuals with chronic kidney disease. Barriers to medical adherence include lack of finances or forgetting to take or pick medications up.
Here are some helpful solutions:
- Reminders: Try the buddy system and digital reminders tip from the above section. Working out a reminder system is one of the best ways to get yourself into the habit of taking medicine.
- Free prescription discount card: NKF now offers a free prescription discount card through BuzzRX. Anyone can sign up and start saving up to 80% of their medication costs today. There is no income qualification, paperwork, or waiting for your pre-activated card. Get your card today.
- Speak with your healthcare provider: If you don’t like the side effects, can’t afford your medicine, or struggle to stick to your medication schedule, speak with your doctor. They may be able to offer a solution not listed here.
4. Managing mental health
It can be easy to forget about one’s mental health when dealing with other issues but mental health is essential, especially when you have kidney disease. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to let your care team know how you’re feeling. They’ll help determine a course of action to get you feeling like yourself again.
You can also speak with other patients through NKF’s Communities or NKF PEERS mentoring program. Sometimes the best advice comes from the people who have lived your situation.
- NKF Communities: Our communities are safe places to share experiences, ask questions, and get answers. Participation is free and anonymous.
- NKF PEERS: No one knows what it’s like to live with kidney disease better than someone who lives with it every day. Sign up for access to a trained peer mentor who’s been there. This program is all held over the phone, so there is no need to go to a physical location.
NKF Kidney Research Connect
If you want to make a difference in kidney research but don’t want to participate in clinical trials, NKF Kidney Research Connect is a perfect option. Through this program, you’ll help researchers create patient-focused studies instead of participating in them.
Common activities include:
- answering questionnaires
- participating in brainstorming sessions
- sharing the outcomes that matter to you
Your voice matters. Whether you are a researcher, patient, or care partner, go to the password-protected site and enter some basic information about yourself or your research project. You can add specific areas of interest and then get email alerts when there is a possible match to your personal experience. Registration takes just a few minutes.