National Kidney Month - Seniors require special attention

Hello, Welcome to the Evolve Senior Solutions, LLC blog by A RN: Disclosed also known as Danielle Harris.

Today’s blog post is in regards to National Kidney Month. This month is dedicated to making sure that we give our kidneys a "checkup" or making sure we aware of the impact and importance of our kidneys.

I want to start by providing some interesting facts about the kidneys.

Kidneys are located in our lower back.  The kidneys work hard and filter 200 liters of blood a day. The kidneys remove waste, drugs and regulate sodium, potassium and acid content.  The kidneys also control the production of red blood cells, produce Vitamin D and help regulate blood pressure.  Keeping our kidneys healthy is vital to a long and productive life.

Did you know? 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease? This statistic is offered by the National Kidney Foundation.

Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, family history, and being 60 years of age or older. For the most part, when diabetes and high blood pressure goes undetected and uncontrolled, this causes kidney disease to progress into later stages or become kidney failure, requiring dialysis.

As a RN and having a passion for seniors to age well, I want to focus on prevention – prevention of further complications and prevention of a diagnosis of a condition, such as kidney disease. 

The National Kidney Foundation recommends an annual testing of urine, specifically the albumin creatinine ration (ACR) which gives an estimate on the amount of protein and albumin in your urine. If you have protein in your urine, this indicates that your kidneys are not working well. Another test recommended is a blood test, which can be drawn during your annual (you should be getting labs drawn with each annual visit), no need for 2 “sticks”; the test is called glomerular filtration rate (GFR), this shows how well your kidneys work to remove wastes from your blood.

A condition that affects your kidneys, and unfortunately is common in aging is dehydration. Dehydration is NOT a normal part of aging, dehydration can be prevented. Dehydration – is something as a RN I have seen in seniors and I have seen patients require hospitalization for as well as rehabilitation, due to decrease in ability to do activities. As aging occurs a reduction in total body water occurs as well; as a result, this reduction, with reduced kidney function (common in aging), diminished mobility, and a decreased perception of thirst, puts older adults at elevated risk for dehydration, especially those who are over age 85 or institutionalized (Skilled Nursing Facilities).

It takes a village to assess and manage proper hydration. Through a team approach, with responsibility shared between the physicians (writing orders), nurses (follow through with orders, completing nurse assessments, and delegating to staff), dietary (offering a variety of fluid options), and non-license staff (encouraging fluids and filling water/ice pitchers). We all need to monitor and encourage increased fluid intake. We all should offer fluids regularly, both at mealtimes and between meals. A Speech Therapist consult maybe worthwhile to determine if beverage consistency may need to be adjusted for the patient's swallowing ability. Foods with a high-water content, such as soup (watch for sodium), yogurt, and fruits, can increase fluid intake and should be offered. Use of drinking straws and special cups can be helpful for some patients. Think outside the box, because some referrals to specialists, may be beneficial as well such as a dietitian, speech therapists, or occupational therapists.  

In the end, our kidneys are important. So show your kidneys some love, ensure you are hydrated and keep a watch on your kidney function.

For information on kidney health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic condition management visit:  If you or a loved one needs additional support feel free to connect with me. 

πŸ”†        πŸ’—        🐘

Thank you for reading, the official Evolve Senior Solutions, LLC blog by Danielle Harris, MSN, BSN, RN, CMC, CDP also known as A RN: Disclosed!

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