Mobility in Older Hemodialysis Patients

Mobility, the ability to move reliably and safely, signifies independence and is integral to self-worth. Almost 70% of hemodialysis patients have difficulty walking. Hemodialysis patients with poor mobility are twice more likely to die or be hospitalized than non-hemodialysis patients. Most importantly, poor mobility is cited by patients as a major cause of poor quality of life. While risk factors for poor mobility have been studied in other populations, such insights may not be applicable to older hemodialysis patients. Older hemodialysis patients have unique challenges, like frequent travel for hemodialysis treatment and post-hemodialysis fatigue that make usual mobility treatments, such as supervised exercise, extremely difficult. The knowledge gap about potentially modifiable risk factors for poor mobility in older hemodialysis patients is impeding our efforts to improve mobility and quality of life for this highly vulnerable population.

Using a mixed methods approach, this NIH-funded study is investigating the relationships of the home environment, caregivers, cognition, and depression with mobility in older hemodialysis patients. The data gathered will inform the design of a future multifactorial intervention to improve mobility in this population.