Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
3 min readJan 2, 2024

Topic: Caregiver of Kidney Disease

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Caring for a spouse, aging parent, or person with kidney disease might feel overwhelming. State of mind and knowledge attainment are the two ways to manage emotions. Knowledge can lessen so many feelings of defeat. We know that caregiving is a gift that can create forever bonds and fulfilling memories. That is the frame of mind we want caregivers to dwell in.

According to the Caregiver Action Network, over 90 million Americans care for loved ones with chronic conditions. According to the National Institute of Health(NIH), most care rendered is due to chronic diseases, like heart failure, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease.

Although African American people make up just 13% of the United States population, they make up about 35% of people with kidney failure(NIH, 2022). Kidney disease in African American populations is a significant public health issue experienced more by men than women.

Chronic kidney disease in the African American community is rising, and unfortunately, my family is a part of the statistics as of December 2023. Let’s make it make sense!

Genetics

I briefly discuss genetics for knowledge’s sake. Reality…Genetics are out of our control. We don’t choose our biological parents, lineage, or health history. Long-term hypertension can and does lead to kidney disease, even though everything humanly possible is implemented with healthcare oversight. It’s the nature of the beast.

New Normal with Chronic Kidney Disease

If chronic kidney disease happens, it can take a big toll on a caregiver. There’s the constant worry about the decline in health and the care needed for the disease. Revising lifestyle can prevent the progression of chronic kidney disease. The first step is recognizing the need for a lifestyle change, which will always include restrictions on nutrition, tracking blood pressure, smoking cessation, physical activity, and medication management. Caregiver and loved one learning is a vital necessity.

Evaluation of Kidney Disease

Three lab blood tests are used to determine early and worsening kidney disease:

Blood urea nitrogen-Normal range: 7 to 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)

Serum creatinine-Normal range: 8 to 1.4 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).

Glomerular filtration rate- Normal range: 90 and above.

Stages of Kidney Disease

Stage 1 CKD: Mild kidney damage, eGFR 90 or higher

Stage 2 CKD: Mild loss of kidney function, eGFR 60–89

Stage 3a & 3b CKD: Mild to severe loss of kidney function, eGFR 30–59

Stage 4 CKD: Severe loss of kidney function, eG FR 15–29

Stage 5 CKD: Kidney failure or close to failure, eGFR less than 15

Power of Your Healthcare Team

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, leaning on the healthcare team for treatment options, reassurance, and feedback is essential. Caregivers caring for loved ones with chronic illnesses can be a roller coaster of emotions, especially when you must adjust to the new way of living. Lifestyle habits are challenging to undo. Changes take time and patience. I am emphasizing that point! Make time for yourself. It’s so easy to get lost when caring for your loved one.

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager, CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.

Website: www.cynthiajhickman.com

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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.