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Caring for a Loved One with End-Stage Kidney Disease

Providing day-to-day care for a loved one who is battling a late-stage illness can be a daunting task — it requires patience, courage, time, energy and much more. End-stage kidney disease is no exception. It can be especially challenging with symptoms of the disease ranging from serious physical pain to sleeping problems, anxiety and/or depression, according to the nonprofit Marie Curie.

Complications of the illness, which include heart disease and a compromised immune system, may add to the complexity and intensity of caregiving. Even end-stage renal disease treatment, typically dialysis or a transplant, can be difficult.

Fortunately, you’re not alone. Some 37 million Americans — about 15 percent of the adult population — face chronic kidney disease, reports the National Kidney Foundation. There are countless kidney disease caregivers across the United States who act as a strong, independent voice for their loved one.

Below are four strategies to consider when providing palliative care for someone diagnosed with kidney failure:

Enact the right lifestyle changes

Seemingly small changes to your loved one’s lifestyle can have an outsized impact on their quality of life. Altering his or her diet is just one example. “You need to have a kidney-friendly meal plan when you have chronic kidney disease,” advises the American Kidney Fund.

The National Kidney Foundation recommends limiting protein intake: “Having too much protein can cause waste to build up in your blood. Your kidneys may not be able to remove all the extra waste.” The Foundation also suggests regulating sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium intake per doctors’ orders.

Tap into the national network

“Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, causes more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer. It is the under-recognized public health crisis,” writes the National Kidney Foundation. The high number of Americans affected also means that there are many resources for caretakers to utilize. The National Kidney Foundation is a good place to start. Their “Resources” webpage can help you locate health care providers for the person in your care; lists clinical trials; and offers prescription discounts.

The American Associated of Kidney Patients is another entryway to the network. The organization provides educational and advocacy programs.

Don’t forget to practice self-care

As the saying goes, “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” To provide the best, most-effective quality of care possible, you need to be rested and healthy. The National Kidney Foundation suggests five ways to “care for the caregiver,” which include taking time for yourself, accepting help from others, seeking out relaxing activities, monitoring your own health, and connecting with other caregivers.

Seek out financial assistance for kidney patients

Often, health is just one part of the caretaking equation; helping with finances is another. “In 2016, treating Medicare beneficiaries with kidney disease cost over $79 billion,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Journal of Managed Care reports that, on an individual level, it can amount to $100,000 per patient.

So, how can you ensure you’re taking full advantage of the available financial assistance for dialysis patients and others with end-stage kidney disease? One way is to leverage the patient’s life insurance policy.

Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living Program allows individuals with an advanced-stage illness to tap into their existing life insurance policy. These funds can be used for pricey medical bills, but don’t have to be — there are no restrictions. Patients can use their advance to finance a much-needed vacation, cover living expenses, pay for a long-overdue home renovation, and more. The life insurance policy remains in place throughout the process, and in over 90 percent of cases, funds remain to pass on to beneficiaries. Caring for a loved one with a serious illness isn’t easy, but there are kidney disease resources available to help ease the burden. To learn more about the Funds For Living program, contact Fifth Season Financial today at (866) 459-1271 or visit

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