Keep your home warm
Colder darker nights often end up in bigger heating bills, but when it comes to keeping your home warm it’s about working smarter not harder. You are probably already doing all that you can to keep costs down but often simple tips like closing the doors and turning off radiators in rooms you don’t use as much will help keep your home at a stable temperature. Ensuring radiators aren’t blocked by furniture (or clothes drying on them) will allow the heat to circulate better and ensure you make the most of your heating. If you have smart controls or can use timers make sure you do so that you can heat your home without wasting energy.
Keep yourself warm
When it’s cold, lots of thinner layers will keep you warmer than one big thick jumper. Choose wool, cotton and fleece fabrics and make sure you are wearing socks and slippers indoors.
Check you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to
If you've suddenly been too unwell to work you might feel unsure about what financial assistance is available to you. In these circumstances, consider booking a free Welfare and Benefits Health Check with the Kidney Care UK Advocacy team. Since we launched the service in 2018 we’ve delivered over £1,000,000 in benefit claims and additional income to patients.
You can also use our free Benefits Calculator to check your benefits entitlement. The Calculator is free to use and the details you provide are kept anonymous.
We often hear from people who don’t realise they are entitled to certain assistance, such as the winter fuel payments or the big energy companies' trusts and funds to support customers in financial difficulty. If you are struggling with the relentlessness of kidney disease, knowing that your utilities are not going to be cut off makes a huge difference.
Keep an eye on the weather
Sudden and bad weather can take us by surprise and in the winter the risk of snow, ice and freezing temperatures can be a real worry for kidney patients who can feel the cold so much more than everyone else. Whilst most people can just hunker down, if you need to get to a dialysis session at a hospital an hour's drive away every other day it can be a real worry. Make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast; if particularly bad weather is due the Met Office will issue weather warnings.
Power cuts are not a regular occurrence but when they happen they can be a real worry, especially if you do your dialysis at home. It’s really important that you are on the Priority Services Register; if your power is cut off they will prioritise getting yours back on. If your power does get cut off you can call 105 to report it and get the latest updates for your area. Plan ahead with our BE PREPARED guide to power outages and energy blackouts.
When you have chronic kidney disease (CKD) it’s so important that you eat well. If you are on dialysis, cooking healthy meals from scratch is often the last thing on your mind when you’re recovering from a session. Our Kidney Kitchen recipes are specially developed for people living with CKD so you can be sure that you're be preparing food that's nutritious and safe for you to eat (as well as delicious!). Look through our selection of warming wintery dishes – many of them serve 6-8 people so can be made up ahead of time and portioned out to be reheated; perfect for when you are feeling really unwell but need good food to help with recovery.
Whilst people with kidney disease don’t generally need to cut out alcohol altogether, much like the general population it’s always best to apply the rule of moderation. Our Choosing Alcohol Wisely guide explains which drinks may have lower potassium or phosphates, but it's always best to speak to your GP or kidney doctor so that they can provide tailored advice for you based on your condition and general wellbeing.
We all know that with a healthier, fitter body and mind comes a host of other benefits, including better management of stress and improved quality of sleep, but we also know just how hard it can be if you are managing other stresses and strains.
Improving physical fitness can mean anything from stretching exercises whilst sitting in a chair to long-distance running. And both (or anything in between) are ok; we are all different, we don’t have to all be marathon runners, but simple stretches and making small changes such as walking to the shops rather than driving all make a difference over time. Consult the exercise section of the Kidney Care UK website for ideas, but remember that if you’ve not been able to exercise for some time, or are looking to increase the amount of exercise you do, you should always speak to your GP or kidney doctor to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard, or to ask them to recommend a particular type of exercise that might be suitable.
Ensure your medicine cabinet is stocked
In the run up to the festive season there is usually so much to get done, but it’s really important that you remember to ensure your prescriptions are ordered and collected before pharmacies and shops close for Christmas.
Stay on top of Covid-19 guidance
Kidney Care UK produces Covid-19 guidance and advice specifically for kidney patients, updated every week. As tempting as it is to avoid the news as much as possible, if you do need to go to work, spend time out and about and plan to see family and friends make sure you know what the most up to date guidance is.
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