Coughing. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. If you’re taking care of a loved one with COPD, you are familiar with these symptoms. Your aim is to help the person with living better with COPD, but it’s not easy. Though 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 Can You Do to Help Someone With COPD?
There are several key aspects to living better 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, if at all possible, to improve ventilation, but closed if 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, both of which could attract irritants. Next, make certain there are no indoor pollutants, for example, fireplace or cigarette 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 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 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 which makes it harder to breathe. It is also helpful to make certain the day starts with a breakfast that is filled with 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 result in feelings of nervousness or restlessness.
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 essential 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 split up into small chunks. As little as a few minutes of activity several times each 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 physician 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 per day.
Bring in help.
An in-home caregiver from Live Free Home Health Care can help in many ways to enhance life for someone with COPD. Our caregivers are carefully trained and experienced in an array of personalized home care services, such as:
- Preparing healthy meals
- Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Friendly companionship to brighten each day
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- And more