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Watch that salt! Five tips for keeping your sodium to a minimum

There is one primary change we can all make to help keep our kidneys healthy and that is to cut the salt! A diet high in salt makes it harder for kidneys to remove toxins and excess fluid and when those build up in your body, your blood pressure increases. High blood pressure is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease. To help manage your blood pressure, your daily goal should be to consume less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium — your doctor may recommend even less. The good news is, there are many ways to keep salt to a minimum in your diet – and you don’t have to sacrifice taste one bit.

Five tips for keeping salt out of your diet

  1. Cook at home from scratch. Restaurant meals are often laden with salt. One of the best ways to lower your salt intake is to cook at home using fresh, unprocessed ingredients.
  2. Drain canned goods. Canned goods can make cooking easier but to preserve those foods, salt is added. Drain and rinse beans and other canned foods to remove added salt.
  3. Throw out packaged seasonings. It’s easy to add seasoning packs to foods without even thinking. But more often than not, these spice packs are loaded with salt. Instead, mix up your own spices to season meat or vegetables. We’ll even help get you started – try our American Favorite Spice Blend on meat, fish or in soups.
  4. Read the label. Before you purchase any foods from the grocery store, take a look at the nutrition label. Compare nutrition labels of similar products to find the one lowest in sodium.
  5. Keep a journal. It’s hard to keep track of the sodium you’re eating. One way to help monitor the salt in your diet is to write it down. After every meal, jot down the sodium you just consumed. This will help you see how much sodium you eat each day, and identify meals that are high and low in sodium — making it easier to meal plan the next time you go to the store.

Whether you have chronic kidney disease or not, paying attention to what you eat can have an enormous impact on your health. Talk to your dietitian or doctor to make sure you are following a diet that’s right for you. Stick with it and let us know how it goes! Share your experiences with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

5 simple exercises you can do anywhere

It’s a fact – exercising regularly provides so many benefits, especially for your physical and mental health. Most people, no matter your age, weight or existing health issues, feel better after exercise. People living with chronic kidney disease are no exception. But if you’ve never had a regular exercise regime, it’s important to ease into exercise very slowly. Starting out too strong can result in injuries and turn you off exercise, so talk to your doctor about creating an exercise plan that’s right for you.

Benefits of exercise

People that exercise often:

    • Have more enthusiasm and optimism.
    • Find it easier to handle stress and anxiety.
    • Feel stronger and less tired.
    • Sleep better.
    • Experience reduced muscle cramps and joint pain.
    • Have a better appetite and digestion.
    • Have an enhanced mental attitude.

Five exercise activities you can do at home

The good news: you don’t have to sign up for an expensive gym membership to exercise. There are many simple exercise activities that you can do from the comfort of your own home or neighborhood! Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Yoga. Yoga is a fantastic way to stretch muscles you might not even know need stretching. It’s also great for getting rid of stress, focusing on your breathing and being in the moment. There are great beginner yoga videos out there – search online to find one that suits you. There are also many yoga instructors that offer online classes for free or a small fee. Even just 10 minutes of yoga can make you feel more centered and relaxed. If your mobility is limited, search for ‘chair yoga’ – many yoga poses can be modified for limited mobility while sitting in a chair.
  2. Lift weights. Strength training not only builds muscle but it also provides a better range of motion and, if done correctly on a regular basis, can reduce the likelihood of injury. It’s also a great activity because it can be done anywhere. Start light – even a can of food in each hand will do.
  3. Garden. Here’s a win-win – gardening! Not only will you have some beautiful flower beds or vegetables at the end, you’ll get a workout in as well. Pulling weeds and planting seeds is a great way to use arm and back muscles. Just make sure not to overdo it – it’s easy to overextend yourself. Build up to longer stints in the garden over time. And make sure to invest in some kneeling pads – a great added comfort when weeding on your knees.
  4. Walking. Taking a walk allows you to not only get in some exercise but also breathe in some fresh air and be out in nature. If there are trails nearby, then head to the woods; if not, even a short few laps around your neighborhood offers you the chance to stretch your legs and get in a bit of cardio. Play a podcast or some tunes if you’re heading out solo, or get to know your neighbors by asking them to join you.
  5. Zumba®. For those who love to crank up the tunes while they workout, look no further than a Zumba® class! There are plenty of classes for free using Zoom so there’s no need to even leave your home. Zumba® is a great way to learn different styles of dance and get a workout in at the same time. It’s fun, lively and a great way to work up a sweat.

Remember, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re choosing activities that are right for you. Stick with it and you’ll likely start to feel the benefits of exercise after just a few sessions. Let us know how it goes! Share your experiences with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

A Note on Unity from the CEO:

Together, we are mighty. Please don’t ever forget that basic truth. Together, we are mighty!

As I reflect on our role as a nonprofit provider of health care for patients diagnosed with kidney failure, I want the patients to know, “it doesn’t matter what you look like, or your accent, you are worthy of our very best care, and we will treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve as our fellow man and woman.” That is a solemn promise, one that I am proud to say PSKC lives daily.

Globally and nationally, the things that bind us together, primarily our common humanity, are so much stronger than our differences. As humans, we all want to be respected, treated fairly, but most of all, we want to love and be loved. There is nothing more basic than that feeling of loving someone or being loved.

Regardless of the color of our skin, the way we talk, or the place we were born, we all crave the social contract of caring for each other.

When we create this type of environment where joy and peace can thrive, that is when we are at our best. When we know that we are good to people, we are able to look in the mirror with satisfaction. It has been said, “a clean conscience is the softest pillow,” and I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. When we know that we have treated people well, when we are “good” to someone, it makes us feel good inside.

So, let us all contribute to peace and prosperity for all. Every one of us has an opportunity to be part of the solution. Around the globe or in this country, looking and sounding different is something we should cherish. It’s something we should celebrate. I mean, think about it, who would want to eat the same food every night? Isn’t the variety, the different colors, tastes, and textures part of the dining experience? It’s no different with people. Let’s celebrate the various colors and sounds of our fellow man.

A celebration is in order!

Warmly and respectfully,

Harold Kelly​
President & CEO

April is National Donate Life Month: help spread the word about organ donation

All month, we’re helping raise awareness of organ donation and the power it has to literally change a life. National Donate Life Month is a great time to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor and to celebrate the power that donation has on so many families in need. This year’s theme is centered around a springtime garden and how its ecosystem of plants, insects and other components work together – similar to how we can all work together to register as organ donors and raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.

Register as an organ donor

Registering to be a donor is simple – just visit RegisterMe.org, fill out the form provided and let your friends and family know about your wishes to donate your organs when you pass away.

Consider becoming a living donor

More than 100,000 people in the United States alone are on the transplant list, waiting for an organ transplant from a deceased donor. Most of the people on the list are waiting for a kidney. The good news is, most of us were born with two! If people waiting for either a kidney and or liver transplant find a living kidney donor, they usually get a better quality organ much sooner. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a living donor, visit www.donatelifenw.org.

Help advocate for organ donation

What can you do now to support organ donation? Help us spread the word about it during National Donate Life Month! Check out Donate Life America’s infographic below and share these facts with your friends and family to raise awareness about the need for organ donation. And you can take part in the conversation about organ donation this month – join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Harned family: a tradition of giving

Within the first few moments of meeting Max Harned, you recognize an incredible energy and passion for life and community. Born and raised in Tacoma, Max credits his family upbringing with his passion for community. His late father, John Harned, and his Uncle Joe Harned, served in the military and settled in the Tacoma area. They each built successful businesses in Pierce County, and with that success they began a family tradition of helping the community through philanthropy.


We share the family traits of a remarkable work ethic and a commitment to education and giving back to the communities we live in.” –Max Harned


Max and Margi Harned at the Lakewood ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 3, 2019.

Their philanthropy has benefited many organizations, and the Harned family name graces prominent education buildings, programs and scholarships that benefit student education at the University of Puget Sound, St. Martin’s University, and Tacoma Community College. In addition to these educational projects, Max has recently extended his benevolence to include the Puget Sound Kidney Centers.

Max first learned about Puget Sound Kidney Centers when he was approached about selling his land for a new nonprofit dialysis center to be built in Lakewood. Recognizing the need and impressed with the mission of PSKC, he not only sold his property to PSKC, but he also decided to serve as volunteer, joining both the PSKC Foundation Board and the PSKC board.

Retired after a successful career in marketing, Max devotes time to being with his wife and family and to serving the community. In addition to his volunteer work with PSKC, he serves on the board of Tacoma Community College Foundation and the Board of Trustees for the King County Library system. When he presents to student groups, Max emphasizes the importance of philanthropy with a favorite quote by Sir Winston Churchhill, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Today, he and his wife Margi, a former educator, jointly support the needs of the local community, recently funding a food pantry program at Tacoma Community College.


“Max and I are so very blessed. The best gift we can give is to share our blessings.” –Margi Harned


Max, Joe and Margi Harned testing out one of the Lakewood heated dialysis chairs that they helped raise money to purchase.

In this spirit of generosity, Max and Margi recently donated and raised funds for new heated dialysis chairs for patients at our new Lakewood dialysis center.

Thank you, Max and Margi, for all you do for the community!

You too can help make a difference in the lives of people with kidney disease. More than half of our patients are in need of financial aid. Financial gifts allow us to provide our patients with the additional support they need. Donations help support our charity care program and help us educate those at risk for kidney disease in our community. They also help ensure our clinics have state-of-the-art equipment, like heated dialysis chairs that bring added comfort to patients during dialysis.

Help support our mission to enhance the quality of life of those with kidney disease through outstanding dialysis care, education and community support.

Donate to Puget Sound Kidney Centers today.

Living Life to the Fullest

Musician, actress, singer, poet, activist, student and social worker are all titles held by Andrea Skywalker over the course of her extraordinary life. Born in Germany to a German mother and a Black American/Cherokee father, she credits her father’s military background and her mother’s meticulous nature with instilling in her a discipline and drive that would help her pursue her many interests. She has traveled extensively, and, with a degree in Human Services, she has enjoyed a long career as a social worker for the State of Washington. During her tenure as a social worker, she worked with victims of domestic violence, seniors and other people in need. “I like helping people who can’t help themselves.” She adds, “I want to leave something positive and beautiful in this world to promote unity.” Andrea enjoys the performing arts and has appeared on the stage and screen as a singer, musician and actress. She continues to perform at local venues.

In 1999 she suffered a major stroke which left her in the hospital for 2 months. She had to re-learn how to walk, talk and function, and her determination would be essential in her rehabilitation efforts, “As soon as I could walk, I went back to work. Never give up” she advises based on her own experience. When her doctor told her six years ago that her kidney function was declining and she should prepare for dialysis, Andrea was adamant that dialysis was not for her and she managed to keep her kidneys functioning for six more years. Eventually her kidneys would fail and she was faced with the ultimate choice. At this point, she did choose to continue living with the aid of dialysis treatments; “I decided I’m too busy to die.” Just a few months after beginning dialysis Andrea celebrated the debut of her first book, entitled “The World As I See It.” Now Andrea has just completed a second book and will soon be recording a music CD. She shares, “Even though dialysis is time consuming and takes up three days of each week, I often think about where I’d be without the dialysis. I choose to be grateful and to be happy that I’m still alive.

Enjoy a poem from Andrea’s new book, “The World As I See It”:

I’M SUPPOSED TO LIVE
I GOT THINGS TO GIVE
I GOT PLACES TO SEE
DON’T YA KNOW
I GOT PLACES TO GO
IN WIND – RAIN – AND SNOW
AND THE CLOCK KEEPS TICKING
REAL SLOW

WHEN I WAS 63
I WAS TIRED AND CRANKY
AND MY PRESSURE
WAS WAY TOO HIGH
AS MY KIDNEYS WERE FAILING
AND I LAY AILING
I WOKE UP AND SAID
NO – I’M NOT GOING TO DIE

I’M SO LUCKY I GET A SECOND CHANCE
TO WALK AND TALK
AND LEARN HOW TO DANCE
MAYBE FIND A LITTLE ROMANCE
TO APPRECIATE EACH MOMENT AND SAY
HOW ARE YOU TODAY

LET’S TAKE A CHANCE
AND DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY
CAUSE I’M SUPPOSED TO LIVE

By Andrea Skywalker @2017

Step into Fall: exercise tips for dialysis patients

Exercise is important for everyone but especially for people on dialysis. For most, dialysis requires sitting in one place for four to five hours at a time. It can also make you feel drained and tired. Once you’ve rested and recovered from your treatment, focus on exercise. Get moving so your endorphins can kick in and give you energy. Exercise can also help you sleep better and lower your blood pressure and blood sugar.

Here are our ideas for exercises you can do in the fall. As always, run your exercise plan by your doctor to make sure its OK for you.

1. If the weather’s nice, go for a hike or a walk around your neighborhood. If you’re on dialysis at a center, chances are your days are pretty packed. If you’re feeling energetic, head to a local trail for a walk in the woods. Or, there’s no need to hop back in the car – just head outside and walk your neighborhood.

2. Stretch, stretch, stretch. There’s a reason people love yoga so much. It’s a great way to stretch so many muscles in your body. Stretching can also make you feel more relaxed and less stressed, and you can do it from just about anywhere. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure of the stretches to do.

3. Lift light weights. Building, strengthening and toning muscle can increase blood flow and make you stronger. You can even do it in front of the TV! Start slow and take your time. Don’t have weights? Grab some canned food to use!

4. Weed your garden. Head outdoors and spend some time preparing your garden for next year’s crop. You’ll thank yourself come spring, and you’ll be getting some exercise now! Weed, rake and breathe in that crisp fall air.

5. Dance. Dancing is one of the best ways to get a workout in – and it’s fun! Crank up the tunes and dance around your house. Just keep moving and you’ll be getting a workout done in no time.

Remember, exercising should be a bit of a challenge but if you’re out of breath, feeling any pain, or have swelling or blurred vision, stop right away and call your doctor.

What exercises do you like best this time of year? Let us know! Share your ideas with us on social media – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

Top ten tips for people starting dialysis

Dialysis can be daunting – learning more about it and understanding your options might help you feel calmer and better prepared. Here are ten ways to get ready for dialysis.

1. Find a kidney doctor if you don’t already have one. A nephrologist — a kidney doctor — is an expert on kidney care. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, use our search tool to find a nephrologist near you.

2. Learn about your treatment options. If you need dialysis, there are different options that might work for you. Learn about home dialysis and in-center dialysis, then talk to your kidney doctor about what could work best for you.

3. Meet with a nutritionist at your dialysis center to discuss the kidney diet. If you need dialysis, you’ll likely benefit from changing your diet. Eating the right foods while on dialysis will help you feel better.

4. Take a class about kidney health. There are many resources out there to help you learn how to feel good while on dialysis. Sign up for our free classes to understand your treatment options, how diet and exercise can make you feel better, and other ways to help slow the progression of your kidney disease.

5. Try to create a dialysis schedule around work and regularly scheduled activities. Dialysis is time-consuming but it doesn’t have to mean you’ll miss out on all your usual activities. Work with your dialysis care team to find a treatment schedule that helps you stay involved with work and your community.

6. Talk to the care team at your dialysis clinic about insurance. Speak with members of your dialysis clinic’s financial team to learn about Medicare and what kidney care it covers. 

7. Talk to someone who has been on dialysis. One of the best ways to understand what dialysis is like is to chat with people who are also on it. While undergoing treatment, talk to others who are dialyzing to get tips from them. Or, meet up with someone from The Road Back to Life, a group of people with kidney disease who have been on dialysis or received a kidney transplant.

8. Find recipes that follow your kidney diet and stock up on those foods. There are some absolutely delicious foods that align with the kidney diet. Check out our kidney-friendly recipes for some to try.

9. Make an exercise plan with your doctor. Fitness is important for everyone, including people on dialysis. Regular exercise — even short walks or stretching — will help you feel better and could help slow your kidney disease down. Work with your doctor to create a fitness plan that works for you.

10. Be your own advocate. No one knows you better than you. If something isn’t going well for you, speak up. Talk to your nephrologist or the kidney care team at your dialysis center to see how your care plan could change to make you feel better.

 

Although adjusting to being on dialysis can be difficult, there’s a community of people here to help. You’re not alone with your disease — talking with others and sharing your own experiences can help. Search, and share your own story, with #MyKidneyStory on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

It’s World Kidney Day!

Time to raise awareness of kidney disease and its effect around the globe

March is National Kidney Month in the United States and March 14 is World Kidney Day, a day when people all over the world raise awareness of the kidney and how important it is. This year’s theme is ‘kidney health for everyone, everywhere.’ Kidney diseases are increasing across the globe — 850 million people are estimated to have some form of it — and the campaign is calling for universal health coverage for prevention and early treatment of kidney diseases.

Global burden of chronic kidney disease

1 in 10 people around the world have chronic kidney disease, and half of people aged 75 or older have some degree of it. Luckily, there are ways to lower your risk of developing the disease.

Ways to prevent kidney disease

To prevent chronic kidney disease, you should:

  • Manage your diabetes, if you have it
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Follow a low-sodium diet

Check out this infographic to learn more about the global burden of kidney diseases as well as more ways to reduce your risk of kidney problems.

On social media? Share facts about the kidney and ways to keep your kidneys healthy this Thursday, March 14, in honor of World Kidney Day. We’ll be doing the same – share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! And visit www.worldkidneyday.org to learn more about kidney disease and how people are recognizing World Kidney Day around the globe.

Fitness first in 2019!

Take control of your kidney health with simple daily workouts

Exercise is important for everyone, especially those with kidney disease. Regular exercise can help control blood pressure and may help slow your kidney disease down. At the same time, exercise can help you feel better and more in control. But, starting an exercise program can be daunting. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be! The key is to make a plan, start slow, steadily increase your workouts and always check in with your doctor to make sure your program is right for you.

Be a healthier you this year – make an exercise plan today! Here are some sample workouts to consider adding to your program.

1. Walk and talk. Walking out in the fresh air is good for your mental and physical health. Want some company? You can also use this as a chance to meet up with someone you haven’t seen in a while. Catching up while exercising will leave you feeling refreshed and better prepared to take on the day and the challenges it may bring. Not excited about bundling up in the winter and heading outside? Head to the mall, go to the gym or walk on the treadmill. Put some headphones on, listen to a podcast and start walking. As you get more fit, adjust your pace. If you are on a treadmill, change the ramp settings to add resistance.

2. Yoga at home. One of the best parts of yoga is the fact that it can be done virtually anywhere. You don’t need to enroll in a class and you don’t even need a yoga mat. Simply spread a towel out on your living room floor, find a beginner yoga video on YouTube and start learning the poses. Finding the workout too difficult? Not comfortable on the floor? Try yoga on softer grounds like grass in a park or sand on a beach. Also, you can search for a video that suits you. Chair yoga, for example, is a popular variation of yoga where the exerciser does poses while sitting in a chair, or standing up and using a chair for support. Start with just 10 minutes a day and build up to 30 minutes. The combination of breathing and stretching makes yoga a worthwhile practice for emotional and physical health.

3. Pool time. Water aerobics or swimming is a great way to get fit. It helps tone muscles and leaves you feeling refreshed and re-energized. Check your local pool for classes. With the music pumping and a group of others beside you, the time will fly by! Or, just go and swim some laps. Either way, you will get a great workout that is bound to be easier on your joints.

Remember to speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor should be able to suggest some simple exercises right for you—even for 15 minutes a day—that can make a big difference in how you feel and improve your kidney health at the same time. Let us know how your exercise program is going—share your experiences with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Have some exercise Pinterest boards you like to follow? We are on Pinterest, too, and would love to hear about them!