Coughing. Difficulty breathing. 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 enhancing life with COPD, but it’s not easy. While 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 Help Someone With COPD?
There are several key aspects to enhancing life with COPD:
Improve the diet.
A healthy eating plan 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 veggies and fruits, nuts, and seeds with limited processed foods and red meats. It is especially important to reduce salt intake, as salt causes water retention which makes it more difficult to breathe. It’s also helpful to make certain the day starts with a breakfast that is full of nutrients. The reason being, fatigue may prevent someone with COPD from getting enough calories, and often the individual will have the most energy first thing in the morning. The individual should, however, stay clear of that morning cup of tea, as caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and result in feelings of restlessness or nervousness.
Modify the home.
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 boost ventilation, but closed when the air quality 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 linens regularly to eliminate dust mites.
Following a regular 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 climbing stairs or walking on a treadmill, 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 each day is beneficial. Make sure to include breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, to enhance 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 each day.
Bring in help.
An in-home caregiver from Inspired Home Care can help in many ways to improve life for someone with COPD. Our caregivers are thoroughly trained and experienced in a variety of personalized care services, such as:
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
- Preparing healthy meals
- Friendly companionship to brighten every day
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
- And more