Chronic Kidney Disease in the Elderly


  • Although kidney disease can appear at any time, it is more likely to affect those over the age of 60. People’s kidneys deteriorate with age.
  • More than 50% of seniors over 75 are thought to have renal disease, according to latest estimates from Johns Hopkins University researchers. In comparison to the rest of the general population, those over 60 have been shown to have a higher prevalence of kidney disease.
  • Many people don’t recognise they have kidney disease until the condition has progressed since it frequently develops slowly and with few symptoms. The first step in stopping kidney disease or reducing its course is raising awareness of kidney disease, especially among individuals who are at risk.
  • Numerous illnesses and ailments have the potential to harm or impact your kidneys. Kidney and urinary tract issues are more likely to affect you as you age. Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease is one disorder that might be made more likely by kidney issues.

Kidney Disease Facts for elderly:

  • Each year, kidney illness claims more lives than breast or prostate cancer.
  • Anyone over the age of 60 should have an annual kidney disease test.
  • Hypertension, diabetes, kidney stones, a family history of kidney issues, protracted use of over-the-counter painkillers, and being over 60 are all risk factors for renal disease.

Aging and Kidney Disease: Consultation

Older persons frequently experience kidney issues, which can greatly reduce one’s quality of life in later years or even be deadly. While the majority of patients can work with their primary care doctors to manage the symptoms and complications of decreased kidney function, it is important for some patients to consult with a team that includes both nephrology and geriatric medicine specialists to identify the underlying cause, manage worsening symptoms and complications, and assess treatment options. These patients include those who have recently developed abnormalities in the urine and rapid loss of renal function, those who have systemic disorders that can harm the kidneys, and those who are rapidly nearing kidney failure due to advanced loss of kidney function.

Signs and Symptoms of kidney disease

Be there are frequently no symptoms, kidney illness is referred to as a “silent disease.” Before experiencing any symptoms, a person’s kidney function might decline by up to 90%. The following are some examples of general symptoms of renal disease:

  • hypertension
  • frequent urination
  • changes in the colour of urine
  • blood in urine
  • puffiness in body parts
  • pain in the kidney area
  • weakness
  • loss of appetite
  • sleeping issues
  • headaches
  • lack of concentration
  • itching
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea and vomit
  • bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth.

Detection of chronic kidney disease

Everyone over the age of 60 should get examined for kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). The NKF suggests performing yearly screenings that include blood tests for kidney function as well as a straightforward urine albumin test that looks for protein in the urine, the first indicator of kidney disease. NKF advises that those in other high-risk categories, such as those with diabetes, hypertention, and/or a family history of kidney failure, be examined annually in addition to seniors.

Types of age-related kidney disease

Some renal and urinary tract illnesses are more likely to affect older adults. These consist of the following:

  • Kidney inflammation or swelling: It can be brought on by illnesses like glomerulonephritis, which is the leading cause of kidney disease in Australia. Despite the fact that diabetes is well-controlled, damage to blood vessels and neurons can still occur.
  • Diseases of the urinary tract: If left untreated, an infection of the urinary system may progress to the kidneys. If a kidney infection is detected, it is crucial to contact a doctor right once because if it is not treated, permanent harm may result. Infections in the urinary system are relatively frequent, especially in women and as people get older.
  • Urine Leakage: Uncontrolled urine leakage from the bladder is known as urinary incontinence, which raises the risk of urinary tract infections. Your nephrologist should check any issues with urinating because they could be signs of more serious kidney issues or other conditions. Some of them are such as an enlarged prostate in men or renovascular disease, in which fatty deposits, calcium, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the linings of the arteries and narrow or block the renal artery. This has an impact on the kidneys’ filters and limits blood flow there, which causes elevated blood pressure and diminished kidney function. This is the most typical reason for renal failure in older people.
  • High blood pressure: If ignored, high blood pressure can harm the kidneys and raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, and vision loss.
  • Heredity Conditions: renal conditions that run in families, such as polycystic kidney disease.

Risk factors for age-related kidney disease

As people age, some kidney and urinary tract disorders become more prevalent. Kidney illness is more likely to affect you if you:

  • more than 60 years old
  • have diabetes
  • are obese
  • have hypertension
  • have established heart diseases (heart failure or past heart attack) or have had a stroke
  • are a smoker
  • have a family history of kidney failure
  • have a history of acute kidney injury

When to see a doctor

Despite the potential severity of kidney illnesses, early identification and effective care can lengthen the lifespan of your kidneys.

There are not always symptoms of kidney disease. It is advised that you undergo a kidney health check from your doctor at least every two years if you have one of the risk factors for kidney disease, which includes blood tests, urine tests, and blood pressure checks.

Age-related kidney disease can affect your heart

Heart attacks are two to three times more likely to occur in persons with chronic renal disease, and cardiovascular disease remains the top cause of mortality for dialysis patients and kidney transplant recipients.

Cardiovascular disease is more likely in those with chronic renal disease at any stage, however those in the latter stages are most at risk.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although there are proven ways to identify and treat kidney disorders, each option has a

certain amount of risk. These dangers may exceed the advantages of normal therapy for elderly patients, or other therapies could be just as effective but carry less risks.

Do you need to get a kidney biopsy?

A kidney biopsy is the most accurate method for determining the precise source of your kidney issue. In addition to identifying the various forms of glomerulonephritis and nephrotic syndrome, it may also predict the likelihood that kidney function will return (how much inflammation and scarring is there in the kidney?). As a result, it might be highly beneficial to inform therapy choices.

However, getting a kidney biopsy is not always easy, especially for an older patient. There are dangers associated with having surgery, just as with any other treatment, and those risks are higher for individuals who are ill, have other chronic disorders like diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension, or take many drugs.

Are you a suitable candidate for routine treatment after a diagnosis?

Commonly prescribed drugs for kidney illness, such as blood pressure-lowering drugs, diuretics, and immunosuppressive drugs for glomerulonephritis and nephrotic syndrome, have adverse effects and increase risk for elderly individuals. Alternative therapies could be less harmful, but they might not work as well. Our clinic’s geriatric experts, who include doctors, social workers, and nutritionists, are adept at advising patients on their treatment options and offering individualised pharmaceutical and dietary guidance. Every effort is made to schedule all of these services at the same clinic visit.

Should you give dialysis a thought or a kidney transplant?

Although elderly people are increasingly more frequently given kidney transplants, this alternative is not suitable for everyone. The state of a person’s health, any co-existing illnesses, and expectations for everyday functioning are all things to think about and go through.


To lower your chance of getting kidney disease:

  • Take prescription and over-the-counter drugs as directed. Follow the directions on the label while taking over-the-counter painkillers including aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.), and acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.). Kidney damage can result from using too many painkillers over an extended period of time.
  • keep a healthy weight. Maintain your healthy weight by engaging in physical activity on the majority of your weekdays. If you need to reduce weight, discuss appropriate weight loss techniques with your doctor.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Smoking cigarettes can harm your kidneys and exacerbate your renal problems.
  • Ask your nephrologist for advice on how to stop smoking if you do.
  • You can quit using by using medicine, therapy, and support groups.
  • Manage your medical issues with the assistance of your nephrologist.
  • Work with your nephrologist to control any illnesses or conditions that put you at risk for renal disease.
  • Consult your nephrologist to find out about tests to check for kidney damage.

Keeping your kidneys healthy

You may do a variety of things to maintain the health of your kidneys, such as:

  • Make sure you have great blood sugar control if you have diabetes. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding insulin injections, medications, diet, exercise, and blood sugar monitoring.
  • lowering elevated blood pressure. Check your blood pressure frequently. Anti-hypertensive drugs like ACE inhibitors and angiotensin blockers, which are used to decrease blood pressure, can delay the progression of renal disease.
  • Have tests conducted for kidney health check-up (blood test, urine test, and blood pressure) at least every two years if you have one of the risk factors for renal disease (every year if you have diabetes or hypertention).
  • Urinary tract infections must be treated right away.
  • Manage blood cholesterol levels through food and, if required, medication.
  • Choose meals that are high in fibre and low in salt, sugar, and fat while drinking lots of water. Maintain sensible serving sizes.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Only consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Keep your weight within a healthy range for your height and age.
  • Try to engage in light exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.


Some renal and urinary tract illnesses are more likely to affect older adults.

Despite the potential severity of kidney illnesses, early identification and effective care can lengthen the lifespan of your kidneys.

Ask your doctor to examine your kidney function at each of your routine checkups.

Elderly people frequently have chronic kidney disease (CKD), which has been linked to higher morbidity and death rates. A substantial burden of CKD is seen in this group due to the increased incidence of comorbidities and risk factors including diabetes and hypertension as life expectancy increases globally. The amount of information regarding how to treat elderly CKD patients is continually developing.

Back to Top