Coughing. Difficulty breathing. Wheezing. If you’re taking care of a family member with COPD, you know these symptoms all too well. The aim of COPD caregivers is to help the person live their highest possible quality of life, but it’s not easy. Despite the fact that there is presently no cure available for COPD, it is treatable, and there are actions you can take as a family caregiver to help.
How Can COPD Caregivers Help Loved Ones Manage COPD?
There are several key aspects to living a better life with COPD:
Improve the diet.
A balanced and 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. Specifically, encourage a diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds, and nuts with limited processed foods and red meats. It is particularly important to reduce salt intake, as salt causes water retention that makes it harder to breathe. It is also helpful to make certain the day starts with a breakfast that is full of nutrients. This is because fatigue may prevent someone with COPD from getting enough calories, and frequently the person will have the most energy first thing in the morning. The individual should, however, stay clear of that morning cup of coffee, as caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and lead to feelings of restlessness or nervousness.
Modify the house.
Take a walk through the person’s home, paying special attention first to ventilation and air quality. Windows should be open if possible to improve 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, be 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 always be kept as clean as possible, using gentle cleaning products without harsh chemicals or strong scents, and changing bed linens regularly to eliminate dust mites.
Following a regular exercise routine will help an individual with COPD build muscle strength and endurance, which can help them breathe easier. Upper body exercises are important for better breathing and to make it easier to remain 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 split 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 prior to starting or changing any fitness program, but a good rule of thumb for breathing exercises includes five to ten minutes, three to four times each day.
Bring in help.
The important thing to remember is you don’t have to go it alone! An in-home caregiver from At-Home Care Company can help in a variety of ways to improve life for someone with COPD. Our caregivers are thoroughly trained and experienced in a wide array of personalized care services, such as:
- Grocery shopping and running errands
- Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
- Cheerful companionship to brighten each day
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- Personal care assistance
- And more