As we age, our bodies are more susceptible to increased health issues that may not have been of great concern when we were younger. Kidney function is one such issue that becomes more prevalent with age.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, it is estimated that more than 50% of adults over the age of 75 are believed to have kidney disease. The disease also appears to be more prevalent in individuals over the age of 60 compared to all other age groups.
With kidney disease so prevalent in the elderly, it is important that caregivers understand the risk factors and early symptoms of kidney disease to help keep their loved ones protected. Keep reading to learn more about kidney disease in the elderly and early symptoms to watch out for.
What is Kidney Disease?
Kidneys are important because they remove waste and extra fluid from your body and make urine. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter well. Damaged kidneys affect the body’s ability to filter blood, remove excess water out of blood, and control blood pressure.
When kidneys suddenly stop working, it is referred to as acute kidney injury or acute renal failure. Acute renal failure occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the kidneys, there is direct damage to the kidneys such as an injury, or urine backs up into the kidneys. Autoimmune diseases can also cause acute kidney injury.
When your kidneys don’t work properly for longer than three months, that is called chronic kidney disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other diseases and illnesses can can create longterm kidney damage.
Early Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Unfortunately, kidney disease does not always present with symptoms in its early stages, or they may be mistaken for other conditions. For this season, kidney disease is called a “silent disease.”
Early symptoms of kidney disease in the elderly include the following signs:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Lack of concentration
- Changes in the amount of urine that is passed
- Blood in the urine (haematuria)
- Pain or burning when passing urine
- Changes in urine’s appearance
- Pain in the back under the ribs (where the kidneys are)
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Puffiness of the legs or ankles
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth
If your loved one has multiple symptoms and you suspect kidney disease may be the cuplrit, consult their doctor and have them tested for kidney disease.
What Causes Kidney Disease in the Elderly
Older adults are more at risk for urinary tract and kidney diseases. Because kidney problems can significantly diminish quality of life and can even be fatal for the elderly, it’s important to understand the risk factors and get your oved one treatment right away.
Here are some risk factors for age-related kidney disease:
- Age 60+
- Existing hypertension
- Established heart problems such as heart failure or stroke
- Family history of kidney failure
- History of acute kidney injury
- Untreated UTIs or incontinence issues
Improving Kidney Function in the Elderly
Fortunately, there are ways to help manage and improve kidney function in the elderly. Depending in the underlying issues, the goal of treating low kidney function in seniors is to reduce the protein in their urine, control phosphorus levels, better manage their diabetes, reduce blood pressure, and improve cholesterol.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with kidney disease, their doctor may take a look at their medications and reduce or discontinue any that may worsen kidney function. Blood thinners, antibiotics, antihistimines, and ibuprofen can potentially cause issues.
Iron pills, vitamin D supplements, and medicines that lower phosphate levels may help. Their doctor may also recommend a healthy diet.
In later stages of kidney disease, dialysis is usually recommended.
Find Renal Disease Services at Senior Health Care Solutions
Because kidney disease can cause significant damage, it is important that caregivers have a plan to deal with any issues your loved one may face. At Senior Health Care Solutions, our skilled nursing staff can help elderly patients and their loved ones recognize the symptoms of renal disease and provide treatment recommendations with our renal disease services.
If your loved one is suffering from kidney disease, you may need to consider outside assistance in helping them recover. Senior Health Care Solutions can be the place you are looking for. Call us today at (570) 969-2188 to learn more about our services.