Coughing. Difficulty breathing. Wheezing. If you’re caring for a loved one with COPD, you know these symptoms all too well. Your aim is to help the person live their highest possible quality of life, but it’s not easy. Though there is presently no cure available for COPD, it is treatable, and there are steps you can take as a family caregiver to help.
What Are the Best Ways to Help a Loved One With COPD?
There are several key aspects to living a better life with COPD:
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 enhance ventilation, but closed when the air quality outside is poor, or when conditions are dusty. Exhaust fans and air filtration systems can also help. Make sure the humidity level is balanced. The air should not be too dry or too humid, both of which could attract irritants. Next, make sure there are no indoor pollutants, for example, fireplace or cigarette smoke, hair spray, and perfume. Dispose of clutter, which collects dust. The home should be kept as clean as possible, using gentle cleaning products without strong scents or harsh chemicals, and changing bed sheets regularly to eliminate dust mites.
Following a daily exercise routine will help someone 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 stay independent and perform daily activities. Lower body exercises, such as walking on a treadmill or climbing stairs, have also been shown 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 beneficial. Make sure to include breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, to boost respiratory strength. Always check with the doctor before starting or changing any fitness program, but a great rule of thumb for breathing exercises includes five to ten minutes, three to four times each day.
Improve the diet.
A healthy diet 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 vegetables and fruits, seeds, and nuts with limited red meats and processed foods. It’s particularly crucial to reduce salt intake, as salt causes water retention which makes it harder to breathe. It is also helpful to make certain the day begins with a breakfast that’s full of nutrients. This is because fatigue can prevent someone with COPD from getting enough calories, and often the person will have the most energy first thing in the morning. The person should, however, stay clear of that morning cup of tea, as caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and lead to feelings of restlessness or nervousness.
Bring in help.
An in-home caregiver from Abby Senior Care can help improve life for someone with COPD in a number of ways. Our caregivers are carefully trained and experienced in a wide array of personalized care services, such as:
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- Preparing nutritious meals
- Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Friendly companionship to brighten every day
- And more