Geriatric renal palliative care

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Dec;67(12):1400-9. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gls202. Epub 2012 Oct 10.


Elderly patients with advanced chronic kidney disease or who are on dialysis should be able to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Geriatric patients are most interested in outcomes that will optimize mental and physical function and limit suffering and pain. Nephrologists must help them answer the question: "How will my kidney problem affect the way I live now and in the future?" This means management must move beyond glomerular filtration rate-related targets and incorporate geriatric principles that focus on assessment of function, comorbidities, geriatric syndromes, and quality of life issues. Therapeutic decisions should be individualized and directed by patient goals of care, which must be explored and documented. Accomplishing this requires inclusion of the patient's family-support system in the shared decision-making process. There is no substitute for spending time listening to and understanding the patient and family agenda, providing timely medical and prognostic updates; discussing realistic scenarios to balance expectations; and planting the seeds of change as the quantity and quality of medical events, geriatric syndromes, and comorbidities accumulate. Synergy of the interdisciplinary renal team with geriatric and palliative medicine specialists provides the expertise to achieve these goals. This falls into the domain of geriatric renal palliative or supportive care (1) and is the subject of this practical review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Decision Making
  • Frail Elderly
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality
  • Life Expectancy
  • Palliative Care*
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*