Coughing. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. If you’re taking care of a loved one with COPD, you are familiar with these symptoms. Your goal is to help the person live their highest possible quality of life, 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 Are the Best Ways to Care for COPD?
There are several key aspects to improving care for 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, when possible, to boost 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 shouldn’t be too dry or too humid, both of which can attract irritants. Next, make certain there aren’t any indoor pollutants, such as cigarette or fireplace smoke, perfume, and hair spray. Remove 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.
Following a daily exercise routine will help a person 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 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 a 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. Specifically, encourage a diet full of fresh veggies and fruits, seeds, and nuts with limited processed foods and red meats. It’s especially important to limit salt intake, as salt causes water retention that makes it harder to breathe. It is also helpful to make certain the day begins with a breakfast that is filled with 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 individual should, however, stay clear of that morning cup of coffee, as caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and lead to feelings of nervousness or restlessness.
Bring in help.
An in-home caregiver from Grace Home Care can help in a variety of ways to improve life for someone with COPD. Our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in a wide array of personalized care services, such as:
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
- Cheerful companionship to brighten each day
- Preparing healthy meals
- And more