Be alert for signs of kidney disease
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Chronic kidney disease is on the rise, and it tends to affect older people at a higher rate than it affects younger people.

Aging parents, spouses and caregivers should be aware that kidney disease is often a “silent” disease; in many cases, it can go undiagnosed until the condition has progressed significantly.

Early identification can definitely play a strong role in bringing about a more favorable outcome for people with kidney disease.


Who gets kidney disease?

Anyone can get kidney disease. However, the chances of developing it are greater among those who: have diabetes or high blood pressure; have a family history of kidney disease; and are African American, Native American or Hispanic.


What are some 

typical symptoms?

Often, kidney disease can be relatively asymptomatic in its early stages; however, aging parents should be alert for the following symptoms that sometimes develop:

• Urination issues: People with kidney disease often need to urinate much more frequently than they previously may have. 

Sometimes there is significantly less urine as well, or it may be foamy or a dark color. In some instances, there may be blood in the urine.


• Tiredness and cold feelings: You may not realize this, but kidneys play a role in blood production. They make a hormone that lets the body know that more red blood cells are needed. 

When the kidneys are damaged, so is the production of this hormone. 

When there aren’t as many red blood cells, a person feels more tired and colder.


• Balance issues and memory problems: Having fewer red blood cells also can affect the brain, making it harder to keep your balance and remember things.


• Fluid build-up: Kidney disease causes fluid retention, resulting in swollen legs, ankles, etc.


• Pains: The legs and the back often feel pain related to problems with the kidney.


• Nausea: If the kidneys can’t remove sufficient waste, it will back up into the blood, making a person feel nauseated. The condition often causes vomiting.


If you have any of these symptoms, bring them to the attention of your doctor and ask whether tests are needed to determine whether your kidneys are healthy. 

Two typical tests for kidney issues are the GFR (glomerular filtration rate) and the urine protein test.

Chronic kidney disease cannot be reversed, but steps can be taken to keep it from worsening; that is why early detection in aging parents and others is crucial.


Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.

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