Written by: Teri Browne, PhD, MSW

Kidney disease can be overwhelming- especially if you need dialysis or a kidney transplant. You probably have to make big changes to your life, change your diet and fluids, take extra medications, see lots of doctors, spend much of your time doing your treatments and you may feel sick and scared. You may be confused about what is going on or what kind of treatment to do for kidney disease or have questions about working and your family and what to do now you have kidney disease.

Every dialysis and kidney transplant center in the United States has a renal social worker to help you with these issues. This renal social worker has a Master’s degree and is trained to work with you on problems you may be having living your best life with kidney disease. Your renal social worker works with your doctor, nurse, technician and team to help you. Some of the things they can do for you are:

Help you cope.

Renal social workers are trained to help you with the emotions you and your family may be dealing with now you have kidney disease and need treatment. It is totally normal to feel sad or anxious at this time. If you are on dialysis, your renal social worker will give you a test to see if you are depressed to see if you are doing OK, and your renal social worker can give you counseling to help cope with feeling sad. Your renal social worker can also talk to your partner or family about the emotions they are going through at this time.

Help you choose the best treatment for kidney disease.

You might be confused about which kidney disease treatment is best for you and your life- would home dialysis work better? How can you get a transplant? Your renal social worker can help you understand what your different treatment choices are for kidney disease and how they might best fit your life and what is most important to you.

Help you take your medications.

When you have kidney disease, you probably have to take a lot of medications every day. This is not easy- you may forget to take them, or have problems understanding why you need them or how to take them, or have problems paying for them. Your renal social worker can help you with this!

Help you with your diet and fluids.

Keeping up with your diet and fluid limitations can be hard! Your renal social worker can work with your dietitian and give you help with what you need to eat and drink, and can also help you understand different treatments (like home dialysis and transplant) that will let you have more freedom with your diet and fluids. Read here about a pre dialysis diet.

Help you stay active.

Even though you have kidney disease, you can still work, volunteer, travel, exercise and stay active! In fact, staying active will help you feel better both physically and emotionally. Talk to your renal social workers about your life goals and your renal social worker can help you do all the things you want to do. Read here about exercises you can do.

Help you with your needs.

You might have some financial and insurance issues, or need help in your home or community. Your renal social worker can help connect you with resources that can help you with these needs.

Help you live your best life!

Your renal social worker works with your kidney disease team to help you live your best life. A big thing your renal social worker can do is help you with your “quality of life” –  this is your happiness in different areas of your life like how you feel emotionally and physically. Your renal social worker will give you a survey that can measure your quality of life and see where you might need help.

Some online resources: 

Sponsored By: Kibow Biotech®

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