COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, can refer to two lung diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Essentially, someone’s breathing is greatly hindered by an obstruction to airflow. Frequent symptoms include an excessively wet cough, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath, making it crucial to learn how to effectively manage COPD symptoms for optimal health.
COPD is expected to be the third leading cause of death globally by 2030 according to the World Bank and World Health Organization. COPD as an economic burden is a major cause of disability-evoked joblessness.
As a family caregiver, you are on the front line of alleviating this burden and helping people manage COPD. Even though there is no cure, COPD can be treated, and your caregiving is integral to an effective rehabilitation program. Exercise, diet, and environmental maintenance are all areas in which you can greatly support someone you love with COPD.
Regular exercise is vital to effectively manage COPD. Overall, it increases endurance and improves blood circulation, making for better use of oxygen. Upper body exercises improve breathing and the ability to complete daily activities. Lower body exercises like climbing stairs and track or treadmill walking have also been shown to benefit COPD patients.
Breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, lead to stronger breathing muscles, more oxygen, and all-around easier breathing. To make breathing routines most effective, you should do sessions of five to ten minutes, three to four times each day.
Eating an optimal diet with the extra calories and energy needed to fight chest infections and to manage their more labored breathing is very important for people with COPD. Planning and preparing meals and otherwise advising your loved one about which foods to include are valuable ways you can help.
Exhaustion often prevents people with COPD from eating enough calories. Beginning the day with a bigger, more nutrient-dense meal when the individual you love has the most energy to eat can be helpful. Following that with smaller meals during the day will not only help maintain calories, but also prevent the person from feeling too full, which can cause it to be more difficult to breathe.
Though a morning coffee may once have been essential, unfortunately caffeine can react unfavorably to COPD medications and cause nervousness or restlessness, leading to aggravated symptoms. Similarly, help the senior stay away from foods high in salt, as water retention caused by sodium also makes for more difficult breathing.
Finally, you should also think about environmental concerns in the person’s home, particularly as it relates to air quality. A good place to start is to keep the person’s home properly ventilated through exhaust fans, open windows, and filtration systems. Nonetheless, windows should be kept shut during poor air quality days and dusty conditions, such as construction work. Also, maintaining a balanced humidity level discourages irritating pests that are attracted to more humid conditions.
Managing or avoiding very cold air, fireplace and cigarette smoke, and other air pollutants are ways you can best serve someone with COPD, as does limiting the use of personal care products such as perfumes, hair sprays, and lotions.
Keeping the home clean can go a long way toward reducing irritants in the home. Eliminate and properly store dust-collecting clutter. Weekly washing of bed linens minimizes dust mites, as does keeping rugs and carpets vacuumed and floors clean. At the same time, reducing exposure to harsh household cleaning products and other chemicals, like air fresheners, is crucial.
For more tips on helping a person manage COPD and live the healthiest life possible and to learn how you can get help from one of the top home health agencies in Mesa, AZ and the nearby areas, contact Endeavor In-Home Care online or at 480-498-2324.