Lessons in Senior Health Care: How COPD Is Diagnosed and Treated

Senior Health CareSometimes, learning of a diagnosis for difficult symptoms can be a relief. Finally, you can name the condition, and follow a plan to treat it! This is often the case for those suffering with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If your senior loved one has been impacted by chronic coughing, wheezing, and fatigue, being diagnosed with COPD may be the first step in helping to improve her quality of life.

Here’s what you can expect the doctor to review in diagnosing COPD:

  • Assessment of the senior’s health and environment, to include smoking, exposure to pollutants, symptoms, and family health history
  • Testing such as spirometry (breathing into a machine to check lung functioning), x-rays and blood work
  • Creation of a treatment plan

Since COPD symptoms can be different from one person to another, treatment plans can vary widely as well. Here are some potential ways your senior loved one’s doctor may try to help her best manage the disease:

  • Medications, to include any of the following:
    • Bronchodilators taken through an inhaler to help open airways, available in both short-term and long-term formulations, to work immediately as needed or to be taken ongoing for maintenance
    • Steroids and corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation, swelling and mucous production
    • Antibiotics to address any bacterial infections in the lungs
    • Immunizations to protect against flu and pneumonia, as those with COPD are at a greater risk for complications from these illnesses
  • Pulmonary therapy works to strengthen the lungs through guided exercise and nutrition.
  • Oxygen therapy, available through liquid or gas oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators that utilize the oxygen already in the environment.
  • Lung surgery may be an option if symptoms are extremely severe.
  • Palliative care focuses treatment on improving quality of life, and is available to anyone diagnosed with COPD, regardless of the prognosis or stage of the disease.
  • Clinical trials help researchers determine the success of new, experimental treatments, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Talk with your senior loved one’s physician to see if clinical trials are an option, and check the American Lung Association’s clinical trial search page for opportunities near you.

Regardless of the doctor’s recommended plan to help your senior loved one manage her COPD, Endeavor Home Care can help with in-home senior health care that can enhance quality of life. Whether the senior requires dignity in helping with personal care tasks like bathing and dressing, assistance with help around the home, meals, transportation and running errands, or merely a kind, caring companion to talk to and share in enjoyable activities together, our fully trained and experienced caregivers are here for you. Contact us at 480.535.6800 to learn more.