You probably never think about your kidneys, but they work hard for you every day. Your kidneys help to remove waste from your body and balance fluids, and your body really can’t function without them. World Kidney Day falls on March 10, serving as a reminder to us all that maintaining healthy kidneys is just as essential to senior health as maintaining heart health, bone health, or mental health.
Kidney problems in older adults are quite common. It’s helpful to know the signs and symptoms of kidney dysfunction or failure, and how you can maintain healthy kidneys -- not just on World Kidney Day, but year-round.
Common Kidney Problems in Older Adults
While it’s commonly known that the kidneys are responsible for removing waste products from the body, that is certainly not their only function. According to the National Kidney Foundation, this organ completes a variety of tasks, including regulating the body’s salt, acid and potassium levels and producing hormones that affect the function of other organs.
Keeping your kidneys healthy as you age is essential, especially since these various kidney problems in older adults threaten your overall health and wellbeing:
5 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Kidneys
While these kidney problems in older adults seem inevitable, there are actually preventative measures you can take to ensure that you, maintain healthy kidneys as you age. All it takes is incorporating some simple, yet effective, healthy habits into your daily lifestyle, including:
Not only does water help the kidneys remove waste in the form of urine, but it also helps keep your blood vessels open so blood can easily travel to and from the kidneys. Dehydration, however, makes it more difficult for the kidneys to perform these essential functions. To determine if you are dehydrated, check that your urine is light yellow or colorless. If it is dark yellow, this is a warning signs that you are dehydrated and it’s time to drink more water.
Eat a healthy diet.
Eating a balanced diet is an essential component of healthy aging because it ensures that your body, especially the kidneys, is getting the proper vitamins and minerals it needs to continue functioning properly. When creating a balanced diet, be sure to choose foods that are beneficial for your heart, like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. You should also cut back on the amount of salt in your diet. A diet high in sodium can cause swelling, or edema when your hands, feet or legs start to swell, or high blood pressure. Experts suggest eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day.
Monitor your blood pressure.
Not only does high blood pressure damage your kidneys, but it also damages your heart. Simply ask your doctor to perform a blood pressure test, or invest in a home blood pressure monitor to keep an even closer eye on your levels. And, as mentioned above, reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.
Many kidney problems in older adults are much more common in smokers than non-smokers. If you currently smoke, take the necessary steps to quit, especially since cigarette smoke raises your blood pressure and damages your kidneys, lungs and overall health.
Limit alcohol consumption.
Similar to smoking, excessive alcohol consumption raises your blood pressure and damages your overall health. Limit yourself to two small drinks a day for men and one small drink a day for women. If you are worried that you or a loved one may be suffering from elderly alcohol abuse, know the warning signs and how you can handle this senior health threat.
Healthy Body, Healthy Aging
Even after taking the necessary steps to care for your kidneys as you age, it is still possible to experience a medical emergency. Whether you have sudden pain from kidney stones or are experiencing symptoms that you may think are related to kidney dysfunction, with Medical Guardian’s medical alert devices help is always just the push of a button away.