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Decision-making about dialysis: Beyond just dialysis or death.

Liu CK, Taffel L, Russell M, Wong SPY, Russell H, Vig EK. Decision-making about dialysis: Beyond just dialysis or death. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2023 May 1; 71(5):1378-1385.

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Nearly half of the persons receiving dialysis in the United States are aged 65?years or older. Kidney failure occurs most frequently in older adults, and typically triggers a discussion regarding dialysis treatment. In this Special Article, we describe the journey of Mr. Howard Russell, an older adult who experienced kidney failure and underwent dialysis. Using the experience of Mr. Russell, we illustrate the complexity of dialysis decision-making, including how disease trajectory and health policy can potentially impede older adults from achieving "what matters." Our intent is to provide guidance regarding these barriers and support to clinicians who are sharing similar journeys with older adults making decisions about dialysis. Based on Mr. Russell's journey, we suggest that when discussing dialysis with an older adult, four points be considered: (1) recognize if dialysis is needed long-term; (2) understand what matters for the older adult; (3) sync the treatment plan when what matters changes; and (4) set up with resources for kidney failure, which is limited but evolving.

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