Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
2 min readSep 5, 2023

Topic: Renal Insufficiency in the Elderly

Photo Credit: Mayo Clinic

Renal insufficiency is a real problem in the elderly. When kidney function diminishes over time, specifically during the aging process, a host of issues and symptoms can happen. Caregivers must have a working knowledge of the potential consequences of this condition and be proactive in real time.

Renal insufficiency is defined as a decline in kidney function where the filtering of waste products from the blood and the removal of surplus fluids is abnormal (Mayo Clinic 2023).

As we age, many of our organs are aging with us and the kidneys are no exception. What is most important to learn is why and how this diagnosis is uncovered. There are several chronic conditions that can create the problem, which begs the importance of knowing the medical conditions of your loved ones. Caregiving is more than managing the activities of daily living (bathing, feeding, clothing & bedtime shenanigans).

Causes of Renal Insufficiency

Chronic diseases are the mainstay of renal insufficiency in our aging population. Diabetes, heart disease, dehydration, and high blood pressure are four of the major diagnoses. Dehydration, caused by hot temperatures should be addressed immediately. Each condition has clear signs and symptoms that will alert you to pay attention. This is also why I stress the need to examine your loved one’s body, head to toe, and listen to what your loved ones say daily! When you do this, changes in conditions can be detected early. Early detection is key to addressing many situations.

What should you look out for?

What should you look out for in your loved one regarding renal insufficiency? Signs and symptoms you may see are:

Thirst

Weakness

Tiredness

Fatigue

Decrease in urine output

Swelling in ankles, legs, and feet.

Rings around legs if socks are worn

Short of breath with activity

In more severe cases, confusion

Lethargy

All of the aforementioned symptoms should not be taken lightly. Renal insufficiency if not addressed can lead to a life-altering lifestyle called dialysis.

Ensure you are speaking with your healthcare professional for any concerns around kidney health. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, getting to the bottom of the underlying causes of an exacerbation in kidney insufficiency needs recommendations and treatment options from your healthcare team. The point of the matter is do not delay! Be safe! Be well!

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.