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What Leads to Decreased Kidney Function in the Elderly?

By , 9:00 am on

Seniors are at high risk for kidney and urinary tract conditions. There are many risk factors associated with kidney disease, but some of them can be mitigated with healthy lifestyle choices. Ahead, learn about the causes of poor kidney function in seniors and the best ways to prevent it.

Common Kidney Diseases

The kidney diseases that commonly affect seniors range from urinary tract infections to renovascular disease. Many of these conditions are closely linked to diabetes, which can reduce kidney function even when appropriately managed. Glomerulonephritis, a condition caused by injury to the blood-filtering part of the kidney, can lead to painful inflammation. Renovascular disease, on the other hand, is an arterial condition that deposits damaging substances in the lining of the arteries, thus reducing the amount of blood sent to the kidneys and leading to a sharp reduction in kidney function, and it’s one of the most common causes of senior kidney failure. Conditions such as urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence can lead to kidney damage if they go untreated. Seniors may also experience hereditary kidney conditions, such as polycystic kidney disease.

How to Spot Kidney Conditions

When kidneys start to malfunction, it’s not always easy to detect. In fact, seniors can lose as much as 90 percent of functionality before they start to notice a problem. There are specific symptoms associated with kidney damage, and seniors and caregivers should be on the lookout for the signs. Many of the symptoms are broad, such as loss of appetite, headaches, poor sleep, and fatigue. However, other symptoms can be more easily traced to kidney health, including blood in the urine, changes in the color of urine, swollen legs and/or ankles, and sharp pains near the kidney area.

An experienced, highly trained professional caregiver may be able to identify symptoms of kidney disease earlier than you or your loved one can. Though you may be researching multiple agencies that provide elder care, Phoenix, AZ, Home Care Assistance has much to offer your family and your elderly loved one. We are leaders in the senior home care industry, offering proprietary programs like our holistic Balanced Care Method and around-the-clock assistance from reliable, experienced caregivers. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your loved one enjoy a happier and healthier life in the golden years.

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

Some seniors are predisposed to have a higher risk for kidney disease. Non-modifiable risk factors include age—people are more likely to experience kidney failure after the age of 60—and genetics—a family history of kidney failure increases risk. Certain ethnic groups, such as people of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal descent, have a greater genetic predisposition for kidney conditions. Diabetes and previous heart problems are also risk factors.

Modifiable Risk Factors

While some risk factors can’t be modified, seniors can reduce their risk by making healthy lifestyle choices. There are plenty of risk factors, including high blood pressure and obesity, that can be mitigated with a regimen of nutritious meals and regular exercise. Smoking is another lifestyle choice that increases the risk of kidney failure. 

Seniors with mobility limitations or other health conditions may find it difficult to prepare nutritious meals or exercise on their own. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Phoenix seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Maintaining Kidney Health

For seniors at high risk for kidney disease, it’s important to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle, which means controlling blood pressure via regular testing and medications. Seniors should also try to consume less sodium, eat nutrient-rich foods, and get regular exercise. Those with diabetes can reduce their risk by maintaining doctor-recommended blood sugar levels. They should also try to give up bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking and schedule regular kidney health checks.

Kidney disease is one of many conditions seniors need to be aware of so they can make lifestyle choices that promote optimal health. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional in-home care. Phoenix families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place. Home Care Assistance can be your trusted partner when your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging. Call us today at 602.388.1085 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.