Kidney health plays a vital role in seniors' overall wellness. These fist-sized organs filter up to a half cup of blood every minute, removing waste, balancing hormones and supporting other organ functions critical to good health.
Here at LifeStream at North Phoenix, we know that understanding your kidneys is the first step to learning how to care for them. Continue reading to discover how the kidneys work and learn simple measures you can take to keep them healthy.
The renal system or urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Simply put, blood vessels transport blood and bodily fluids into the kidneys, where waste and toxins are filtered out as urine. Urine travels from the kidneys through two tubes called the ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until it's released through another tube called the urethra.
This complex system balances fluids in the body by ridding it of extra water, acids and minerals. However, its contributions to wellness don't end there.
As they filter the body, the kidneys release hormones, which are distributed by the cleaned blood. These chemicals help regulate blood pressure, trigger the production of red blood cells and alter vitamin D into a form the body can use to build new bone tissue.
The kidneys play a vital part in regulating your overall mineral levels, including sodium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. This balance protects the heart, nervous system and other systems, ensuring every part is functioning properly.
The kidneys affect every part of your body, and in the same fashion, the entire body plays a role in protecting your kidneys. Poor health in one area, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, can have major repercussions on renal health.
It's important to talk with your medical provider about a customized care plan for your kidneys tailored to your health. Some of the best practices include:
The renal system and heart work in sync. The heart pumps the blood, and the kidneys filter it.
The kidneys also secrete hormones and balance minerals that promote healthy heart function. The heart, in turn, feeds the kidneys oxygen-filled blood that acts as fuel, letting them do their job.
Many of the same steps that enhance renal health also benefit the heart, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet. Reducing stress, stopping smoking and avoiding fatty foods are other good tips for nurturing a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes is the leading cause of renal disease. Individuals with this chronic condition can experience a drop in kidney function. Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause damage to blood vessels and kidneys, preventing the body from circulating and filtering fluids properly.
The reduced function can create a cumulative effect, where every organ begins to struggle and adds additional strain on the rest of the body. Controlling diabetes, however, can slow or stop this effect.
Managing diabetes is a daily task, but seniors don't have to face it alone. In addition to their medical team, our garden home residents can count on our staff here in North Phoenix for assistance. By taking care of household chores and maintenance, our staff's efforts save residents time every day that can be used to focus on caring for their personal health.
High blood pressure strains arteries and vessels in the cardiovascular system, eventually damaging them. This damage prevents kidneys from receiving oxygen through the blood. It also interferes with the kidneys' job of filtering the blood properly and regulating hormones.
Although the condition can't be cured, it can be treated, so following your doctor's dietary and exercise recommendations is crucial. You must take the proper dosage of medications as instructed, even when your numbers show improvement. Changes to medication routines can cause unhealthy swings in blood pressure.
Eating less salt is also beneficial. The DASH diet, which features plentiful servings of fruits and vegetables, is a popular choice among physicians for lowering high blood pressure.
For over 30 years, doctors have studied the effects of exercise on kidneys. The results are almost universally positive, revealing exercise produces higher physical function, improved sleep and reduced high blood pressure, all of which contribute to renal health.
You should consult your doctor to tailor activities to your physical fitness level. Older adults with bone and joint issues may be able to participate in chair and water aerobics.
Once you've received physician approval, explore our staff-led exercise classes to find ones that appeal to you. Additionally, you may want to take up container gardening, walking on our paved paths and other activities designed to help you hit your fitness goals while enjoying your preferred hobbies.
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