The emotional support and assistance provided by family members with the management of day-to-day treatment regimens is vital to the survival and quality of life of dialysis patients.

Kidney disease and dialysis create a change in the dynamics within a family, since the illness of one family member often impacts the entire family.

Families also go through an adjustment period, experiencing similar emotions, such as anger, sadness and fear. It is important to maintain communication and be honest so that patients and families can express to each other how they are feeling. It may be useful for family members to attend clinic appointments and dialysis treatments with the patient, so that they can feel involved and be a part of the patient’s health care team. Family members will feel better and more relaxed if they have information and can be involved in the patient’s care plan.

Often, dialysis patients and people who have kidney disease have difficulties explaining their health situation to their children.

An ill parent may be too anxious to communicate in a caring manner or may wish to protect the child by not discussing their health issues.

It is important to have open communication with children, and to explain everything in a way that they will understand. Children may feel more upset or fearful if they don’t know the truth, thinking that something is worse than it actually is. Children are also better able to handle this situation if they feel they have helped in some way. Involving them to a small extent in your care could help them adjust to dialysis. This is particularly important with home dialysis therapies, where dialysis machines and equipment will become normal additions to the house.

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