According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard for seniors living with COPD to breathe. It often causes the following symptoms:
- A cough that produces large amounts of mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- And more
Although COPD has no cure, there are some steps seniors can take to avoid the disease. For one, smoking is the number one cause of COPD. Stopping or avoiding starting a smoking habit can help seniors avoid getting COPD. Seniors living with COPD who smoke should quit as soon as possible, as smoking can make their symptoms progress more quickly.
If you or a loved one has already been diagnosed with COPD, there are still ways to effectively manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Here are some tips that can help:
- Avoid lung irritants – Smoking can increase the progression of the disease, so quitting the habit as soon as possible will greatly help in managing COPD symptoms. Seniors should also avoid other lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes, dust, and second-hand smoke.
- Get ongoing care – Consulting with a doctor regularly can help seniors monitor their COPD. Make sure to stay up to date on prescribed medicines, and ask the care provider about any vaccines that may help keep seniors safe from other ailments that can worsen symptoms.
- Don’t exacerbate the symptoms – Seniors living with COPD may need to adjust their normal habits to keep their symptoms at a minimum. For example, do activities more slowly, make sure things are always in an easy-to-reach area, or make the house more accessible by reducing the need to use stairs.
- Prepare for emergencies – Always know when and where to get help if needed. Make sure there is a list of phone numbers of doctors, caregivers, or even nearby neighbors in case anything goes wrong while the senior with COPD is alone. Or, get help from a provider of home caregivers, such as Aware Senior Care.
These tips can’t cure COPD, but they can help ensure that seniors living with COPD can continue to live a fulfilling life while managing symptoms. Of course, talk to the doctor if symptoms begin to worsen, as a senior’s limitations are sure to change as the disease progresses.
There are also some situations where seniors living with COPD may need to consider getting emergency help. Some of these could include:
- If they are having difficulty speaking or catching their breath
- If their lips or finger nails turn gray or blue, which is a sign of low blood-oxygen levels
- Their heartbeat increases to an abnormal, concerning rate
- The recommended treatments or tips stop working
If you or a senior you love need help managing COPD symptoms, Aware Senior Care can help. We offer home care assistance in Raleigh and the surrounding areas that can help seniors with COPD still live comfortably and independently while managing symptoms. To find out more about our home care services, reach out to us online or at (919) 436-1871.