COPD and caring

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, often referred to as COPD, describes several progressive respiratory diseases (such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis) that target the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. While COPD presents a unique set of challenges to older adults and their caregivers, it is essential to remember that millions of American families can successfully manage this diagnosis every year with the appropriate combination of treatment and modifications to their daily lives.

Life changes

should happen with care & compassion

People living with COPD may experience both physical and cognitive challenges related to their diagnosis.  While COPD is mainly associated with shortness of breath, other medical complications may arise as a direct result of this including, but not limited to: lung infections, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even depression/anxiety.  Because of the frequency and severity of these complications, people living with COPD may need to make significant changes to their daily routines to manage their condition effectively.

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Changes to Habits

Daily Routines

COPD symptoms can often make doing chores and completing other daily tasks challenging… Small, simple changes in a daily routine can have a significant impact on the quality of life for someone with COPD.

  • Incorporate a mixture of gentle 20-30 minute exercises into your loved one’s daily routine to help build their lung capacity back up.
  • Talk to your loved one about using a walker or cane to help them get around.
  • Help your loved one quit smoking, and encourage their friends and family to do the same.
  • Assist your loved one in maintaining a healthy diet.

Changes

to Physical Spaces

Older adults with COPD may struggle to move around their home as they once did. Changes may be necessary to ensure your loved one can get around the house with ease.

  • If your home has stairs, consider either investing in a stair lift or installing a wheelchair ramp to minimize physical activity.
  • Outfit bathrooms with safety rails and shower chairs to reduce the physical stress of washing and bathing. Ensure your loved one has access to a terry cloth robe for after bathing to dry off with ease.
  • Give your loved one a SuperPole to help them sit and stand without physical assistance.
  • Vacuum and dust your loved one’s home frequently so they can breathe easier.

Changes to

Physical Spaces

Older adults with COPD may struggle to move around their home as they once did. Changes may be necessary to ensure your loved one can get around the house with ease.

  • If your home has stairs, consider either investing in a stair lift or installing a wheelchair ramp to minimize physical activity.
  • Outfit bathrooms with safety rails and shower chairs to reduce the physical stress of washing and bathing. Ensure your loved one has access to a terry cloth robe for after bathing to dry off with ease.
  • Give your loved one a SuperPole to help them sit and stand without physical assistance.
  • Vacuum and dust your loved one’s home frequently so they can breathe easier.

Changes to Chores

Hygiene

Parents with COPD may need extra assistance around their home to manage their symptoms comfortably. 

  • Consider moving commonly used items to countertops and tables at waist height to reduce potential stress on the body.
  • Have your loved one use a cart to quickly and independently transport items around the home or garage.
  • Create a chore schedule with extra time built in between each task to help your loved one slow down and take small breaks while cleaning.
  • Assist your loved one in picking appropriate cleaning products that are free of fragrances and harsh chemicals that may worsen their COPD symptoms.
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adaptations

to Supportive Care

Loved ones with COPD may need additional emotional support to manage how they are feeling about their symptoms.  Special considerations should be made to ensure they get the support they need to thrive independently.

  • Help your loved one build a network of social and emotional support by teaching their friends and family members about COPD.
  • Check local resources to see if there are any COPD support groups in your area to join with your loved one.
  • Make sure your loved one schedules time for their hobbies to reduce stress; consider trying out a few yoga or meditation classes together, or provide them with opportunities to engage in their preferred activities.

Your Stories

Beverly’s Daughter is a community-driven project fueled by the passion you and others have for caring for their loved ones.  We hope the stories below may inspire, encourage, and enlighten. Everyone has their own memories and stories that they hold dear.  All are important, and all are cherished.

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Processing Grief

In many cases, our mental health is rooted in stability derived from a regular routine. Within this routine are the social interactions we take for granted, the projects we derive fulfillment from, and life’s milestones that we can count on looking forward to. With the world in crisis mode, much of this routine has gone by the wayside.

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