COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the term for two lung diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Essentially, for people living with COPD, breathing is severely affected by an airflow obstruction. Common symptoms include an excessively wet cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest.
By 2030, the World Bank and World Health Organization estimates that COPD will be the third leading cause of death globally. COPD as an economic problem is a top cause of disability-induced unemployment.
You, as a family caregiver, are on the front line of relieving this burden. Even though there is no cure, COPD can be treated, and your caregiving is crucial to an effective treatment program. San Diego Home Caregivers, a provider of home care services in La Mesa and the surrounding areas, recommends diet, exercise, and environmental maintenance as ways in which you can substantially assist someone who is living with COPD.
A healthy diet provides people with COPD with the energy and extra calories necessary to combat chest infections and to deal with their more labored breathing. Planning and preparing meals and otherwise advising your loved one concerning which foods to include are important ways you can help.
Lethargy often prevents those with COPD from consuming enough calories. Starting the day with a more substantial, 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 make it more difficult to breathe.
Although a morning cup of coffee may once have been the normal routine, unfortunately caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and cause restlessness or nervousness, leading to exacerbated symptoms. Additionally, help the senior stay away from foods high in salt, as water retention caused by salt also makes for tougher breathing.
Regular physical activity is fundamental for effective COPD symptom management. Generally, it enhances endurance and increases blood circulation, making for better use of oxygen. Upper body exercises help with breathing and the ability to perform daily activities. Lower body exercises such as stair climbing and treadmill or track walking have also proven to benefit those with COPD.
Breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, result in stronger breathing muscles, increased oxygen, and all-around easier breathing. An ideal plan consists of sessions of five to ten minutes, three to four times each day.
Finally, it’s also wise to think about environmental concerns in the senior’s home, especially as they relate to air quality. A good place to start is to keep the individual’s home properly ventilated through exhaust fans, open windows, and filtration systems. However, windows should remain shut during poor air quality days and dusty conditions, such as construction projects. Also, sustaining a balanced humidity level counters dry air from home heating systems and discourages irritating pests that are attracted to more humid conditions.
Avoiding or managing very cold air, fireplace and cigarette smoke, and other air pollutants are ways you can best serve a loved one with COPD, as does reducing the use of personal care products like perfumes, hair sprays, and lotions.
Housekeeping can go a long way towards minimizing irritants in the home. Eliminate and properly store dust-collecting clutter. Weekly bed linen laundering 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, including air fresheners, is essential.
Find more tips on helping a person living with COPD to enjoy the healthiest possible life and how our in-home caregivers can work together with you to ensure quality, seamless care. Contact us any time at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about our home care services in La Mesa and the surrounding areas.