Patient Referral

Sometimes referred to as renal failure, kidney failure is the final stage of chronic kidney disease. The patient’s kidneys gradually lose their ability to filter waste and extra water from the blood, creating a build-up within the body, which is terminal when left untreated.

At this point, the patient needs dialysis or a kidney transplant. If neither of these options are available, or if the patient opts to forgo this treatment, hospice care can help in ensuring the patient’s remaining time is as comfortable as possible by managing pain and other symptoms. Once the patient reaches end stage renal disease (ESRD), death usually occurs within a few weeks. This can be longer or shorter depending on the patient’s overall health, and how much kidney function they have left.

As a family caregiver of someone with kidney failure, it is important that you are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of end-stage kidney failure. By knowing how to identify the signs, you can help your loved one in receiving the right care when it’s needed most.

What are the signs of end-of-life kidney failure?

Some of the most common end-of-life kidney failure signs include:

  • Water retention/swelling of legs and feet
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Insomnia and sleep issues
  • Itchiness, cramps, and muscle twitches
  • Passing very little or no urine
  • Drowsiness and fatigue

End-of-life kidney failure can be painful depending on the patient. While patients may experience symptoms including pain, they can be managed with medication and other hospice care services that are designed to meet all the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional needs.

Tips for managing end-of-life kidney failure symptoms.

There are several different ways you can help a loved one manage their end-stage kidney failure symptoms. Perhaps the most valuable thing you can do is listen to your loved one and try as best you can to address their issues. However, if at any time you are unsure of how you can help, or if the patient is unable to communicate effectively, we recommend contacting their primary care physician.

What you can do for your loved one.

Besides managing symptoms, as a family caregiver you can help by communicating what end-of-life kidney failure signs you are seeing to the patient’s doctor and the hospice care team. Additionally, as a loved one, you can help the patient get their affairs in order. And finally, if it hasn’t been done already, by contacting a hospice services provider as soon as possible.

How hospice can help with end-stage kidney failure.

Besides providing help in recognizing the signs of end-of-life kidney failure, hospice can help the family caregiver in managing their own needs. The team at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care includes nurses, volunteers, aides, social workers, and doctors who provide many different services, from personal care like grooming and bathing, to help with managing the patient’s medication.

If you would like to learn more about how Crossroads can help, we recommend you contact us now by selecting one of the “24/7 Help” options from the green bar at the top of this page.

End-of-life signs by disease.

Learn about the specific end-of-life signs of common diseases and illnesses:

More end-of-life resources.