Getting to Know a New Language
When the person you care for begins peritoneal dialysis (PD), you will encounter many new words and phrases. One of the most important is “peritoneum.” The peritoneum refers to the part of your abdomen that is used as a natural filter to mimick the abilities of a kidney in peritoneal dialysis (PD). This is just one of many phrases you will probably hear along the way, along with exchange, cycler, catheter, and many other terms. Learning these may help you feel more in control. You should never hesitate to ask the healthcare team if there is anything you need explained further.
Changes at Home
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) requires many different items that will need to be stored at home, for example fluid bags. You will need to make adequate room for these in a clean and dry space. You will also need to frequently have these replenished, typically through a delivery to your home. Making a plan for how and where to store these, and making space for the supplies, might be helpful in your preparation as a caregiver.
Sleeping and New Bedside Routines
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) exchanges may take place during the night, with a dialysis machine next to your bed. The set-up and the dialysis machine will create some light and noises, and it's possible that you will notice these things while you sleep. It may take some time to get used to, but it will become familiar over time. If possible, attend a training session where you can see (and hear) the process to familiarize yourself with the new routines.
The Importance of Cleanliness
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) requires a catheter to fill and drain the liquid that cleans the blood (dialysate) during each exchange. It's crucial that the exit site and the catheter is kept clean. It can be a good idea that you participate in the consultations, so that you can share the responsibility of keeping a high level of cleanliness and understand what is needed to do to maintain a healthy exit site.
Keeping Yourselves Active
Like anyone else, people on dialysis feel and do better by staying active. You can participate in many activities together and you should encourage the person you care for to keep being involved in their work and hobbies. Just be aware that you should always speak with their doctor to ensure that this activity is right for them.
It’s Okay to Take Some “Me” Time
Caring for dialysis patients can be challenging for you both emotionally and physically. Getting out of the house and spending time with others is a good way to take a break, talk about your feelings and can help keep your energy up to stay positive. You can also find out if being part of a caregiver network is something for you. Make sure to find the balance that is right for you.