For Patients & Families

Today’s treatments for kidney failure allow you to participate in life and enjoy your family and friends. Dialysis is a life-saving treatment, but it is not a cure. Most people with kidney failure have other diseases or conditions that get worse over time. At some point, you could face failing health and – as all people do, regardless of their health – the end of life.

Looking ahead can be overwhelming and scary. But, it helps to take control of your care by telling your healthcare providers and your family about your wishes and the type of care you want as your disease progresses. This will also make it easier for them to make decisions for you if you become too sick to make them yourself.

Many people on dialysis say they feel better knowing that they talked with their family or social worker about their wishes for the future. They say that they:

  • Feel a sense of control over their future
  • Have peace of mind
  • Know they have made sure that they will be taken care of with dignity, through pain relief and other chosen treatment
  • Feel they will be less of a burden to their family, who will not have to make difficult decisions on their behalf

All of these decisions are called advance care planning,” which is simply planning for your care before you need it. When making plans, it is helpful to have an understanding of the progression of your illness, anticipated outcomes, and treatment options which include not doing dialysis. Your physician should participate with you in determining appropriate care for you and helping you to fully understand what your journey may be.

Your dialysis facility staff is ready to work with you to put some of these decisions in writing so you can have peace of mind about your future. You can always change any of your decisions later; they are not set in stone.