Tips for Managing Your Home Dialysis Lifestyle

By Shelly Crumley, LCSW

As a kidney patient, you know first-hand that life on dialysis—even home dialysis—is challenging. And people on peritoneal dialysis (PD) or home hemodialysis (HHD) are not exempt from hectic day-to-day stress. It's tough for everyone to get daily tasks done, and trying to fit in manual PD exchanges or hemodialysis treatments every day can be taxing and frustrating. Hooking up to the PD cycler each night may be a challenge for someone whose typical day starts early in the morning and lasts into the night. Even so, there is no getting around that the foundation of good dialysis is the completion of each treatment. Missing or shortening the dialysis treatment, even by a few minutes, may negatively impact the overall success of dialysis. Successful dialysis leads to improved health and quality of life.

Successful PD/HHD looks like:1
  • Feeling well
  • Good energy
  • Good appetite
  • Good sleep
  • Ability to think clearly
Inadequate PD/HHD looks like:1
  • Feeling poorly
  • Weakness
  • Poor appetite
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Inability to think clearly


Make Choices Each Day
What is important in your life?
Be Realistic About What You Want and What You Can Do
Eliminate things that don't fit.
Participate in the "Yes and No" Philosophy.
If you say YES to a new activity, then you may need to say NO to an existing activity for which you will no longer have time.
Multi-Task When Possible
During PD cycler or short daily hemodialysis treatments you can work on the computer, complete some crafts/hobbies or study.
Use Shortcuts When Able
A shortcut refers to a technique that makes life easier, such as eating pre-made foods (don't forget your binders) to cut down on meal prep time and using a mail order pharmacy, such as Davita Rx®, to cut down on time spent going to the pharmacy. You can gather all the supplies you will need for your treatment in the mornings before going out for the day to speed up your hook-up process in the evenings or once you're home. (Note: Short cuts do not refer to shortening or missing the dialysis treatment or skipping safety and infection control procedures needed for home dialysis therapy.)
Move Slowly and Stay on Course
When feeling overwhelmed, slow down, sit down, calm down and wind down with stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, mental imagery, calming visualization, exercising, making to-do lists and reassessing priorities.


  1. What Is Enough Dialysis? (updated 2011). AAKP. Retrieved from
  2. Scott, E. (2011). Life Plan Strategies for Busy People. Guide. Retrieved from