Coughing. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. If you’re taking care of a family member with COPD, you are familiar with these symptoms. Your goal is to help the person live their highest possible quality of life with COPD, but it’s not easy. Though there is currently no cure available for COPD, it is treatable, and there are things you can do as a family caregiver to help.
What Can You Do to Help Someone With COPD?
There are several key aspects to living a more rewarding life with COPD:
Following a daily exercise routine will help an individual with COPD build muscle strength and endurance, which can help them breathe easier. Upper body exercises are essential for better breathing and to make it easier to remain independent and perform daily activities. Lower body exercises, such as climbing stairs or walking on a treadmill, have also been found to help those with COPD. Physical activity can be broken up into small chunks. As little as a few minutes of activity several times per day is helpful. Don’t forget to include breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, to enhance respiratory strength. Always check with the physician before starting or changing any exercise plan, but a great rule of thumb for breathing exercises includes five to ten minutes, three to four times each day.
Modify the home.
Take a walk through the individual’s home, paying special attention first to ventilation and air quality. Windows should be open, if possible, to boost ventilation, but closed when the quality of air outside is poor, or when conditions are dusty. Air filtration systems and exhaust fans can also help. Make sure the humidity level is balanced. The air shouldn’t be too dry or too humid, each of which can attract irritants. Next, make sure there aren’t any indoor pollutants, for example, cigarette or fireplace smoke, hair spray, and perfume. Eliminate clutter, which collects dust. The home should always be kept as clean as possible, using gentle cleaning products without harsh chemicals or strong scents, and changing bed sheets frequently to eliminate dust mites.
Improve the diet.
A healthy diet plan provides someone with COPD with the extra calories and energy they need to prevent and recover from chest infections and to ease breathing. In particular, encourage a diet rich in fresh veggies and fruits, nuts, and seeds with limited processed foods and red meats. It is particularly important to limit salt intake, as salt causes water retention that makes it harder to breathe. It’s also helpful to make certain the day starts with a breakfast that’s packed with nutrients. This is because fatigue can prevent someone with COPD from getting enough calories, and often the individual will have the most energy first thing in the morning. The person should, however, steer clear of that morning cup of coffee, as caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and result in feelings of nervousness or restlessness.
Bring in help.
An in-home caregiver from Absolute Companion Care can help enhance life for someone with COPD in many ways. Our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in a wide range of personalized care services, such as:
- Preparing healthy meals
- Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- Friendly companionship to brighten each day
- And more