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Anemia In Elderly Persons

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Question: Dialysis - yes or no for an elderly person who has diabetes? My grandmother, who is 86 years old, has been told by her specialist that she should start thinking about whether she wants to pursue dialysis treatment or not. Because of diabetes, she is rapidly reaching the point at which her kidneys will fail completely and so the option was presented to her. Now I've seen many case studies and reports stating that those with comorbid diseases (like diabetes, anemia, etc.) don't have a significant improvement on dialysis and that to put elderly people on this treatment is a drain on the economy and not worth the trouble. On the other hand, there are quite a few who have stated that with innovations in dialysis and delivery as well as proper maintenance of comorbid diseases many symptoms can be improved and that good quality of life can be maintained on dialysis even in these patients. I'm curious if anybody can offer some more insight into dialysis for elderly people with diseases or point to some more literature on the subject. Thanks.

Answer: I think we should take economics out of the equation here. I think that how your grandmother feels about it is the #1 factor to think of here. Is she overall in bad health? I was on dialysis myself and saw lots of very senior citizens there. Some were very sick, and I wondered why they kept at it. Others seemed to do very well. I would say to try it - if she's ok with it, and understand what happens if she does not go. Or she could start, and if it makes everything worse and she is constantly miserable, she can stop. I will add that she could start and may temporarily feel bad until it starts working. FYI, I did very well on dialysis. I had been for my 2 mile walk the night I got called for my transplant. I was a Type I diabetic and I did have significant improvement on dialysis. I had a kidney/pancreas transplant in 2005. I was 45. If my kidney fails, as I get older, I am not sure I would go back on dialysis. I recommend the message boards and info at I hope you can find someone in your situation who can tell you more. Your grandmother is fortunate to have someone who cares about her as you do.

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