Coughing. Difficulty breathing. Wheezing. If you are caring for a family member with COPD, you are familiar with these symptoms. Your aim is to help the person live their highest possible quality of life, but it’s not easy. Despite the fact that there is currently 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 Strategies for COPD Care?
There are several key aspects to living a better life with COPD:
Modify the house.
Take a walk through the person’s home, paying special attention first to ventilation and air quality. Windows should be open, when possible, to enhance ventilation, but closed if the quality of air 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 could attract irritants. Next, make sure there aren’t any indoor pollutants, for example, cigarette or fireplace smoke, perfume, and hair spray. 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 linens 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 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 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 beneficial. Don’t forget to include breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, to enhance respiratory strength. Always check with the doctor 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 per 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 full of fresh veggies and fruits, seeds, and nuts with limited red meats and processed foods. It’s especially crucial to reduce salt intake, as salt causes water retention that makes it more difficult to breathe. It’s also helpful to make sure 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 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 bring about feelings of nervousness or restlessness.
Bring in help.
An in-home caregiver from Home With You Senior Care can implement some helpful strategies for COPD care at home. Our caregivers are carefully trained and experienced in a wide array of personalized care services, such as:
- Friendly companionship to brighten each day
- Preparing healthy meals
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
- And more