Does your loved one suffer from stage four chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? Then the constant worry about the potential of worsening symptoms and how you should counteract them are no strange thoughts. To be the best possible caregiver for your loved one, you should talk with their doctor about potential problems they may face and ways to take action against them. When talking with their doctor some of the topics he/she will touch on will include:
Medical Grade Oxygen
The usage of supplemental medical grade oxygen for your loved ones COPD treatment will improve their overall quality of life by reducing breathlessness, as well as providing them with mobility they haven't seen in years! Make sure you aware of the following when caring for your loved one on supplemental oxygen:
- Educate yourself and your loved one on the pros and cons of the different portable oxygen solutions, and base your decision off of that knowledge as well as which system is best suited for their needs. Talk about the different systems with your loved ones doctor and include them in the decision process.
- If your loved one is a current smoker, you will want to find a smoking cessation program to help them put down the habit. As smoking near an oxygen concentrator is a big no-no!
- When ordering an oxygen concentrator be sure to ask about additional batteries, replacement cannulas, and loaner units just in case you ever need to send your loved ones unit in for repair.
- The only way to purchase a portable oxygen concentrator is to have a prescription from your loved ones physician.
- Learn how to operate the oxygen concentrator by reading the user manual.
Promoting Physical Activity and Exercise
The development of COPD has made breathing more difficult for your loved one, which is why they may stray away from trying to exercise or any physical movement for that matter. Though as a caregiver you should push them to be as active as possible. Physical activity being as difficult as it is, is in fact extremely beneficial for COPD patient and will improve lung function and heart health. Help improve your loved ones well being by getting them to be active with the help of these tips:
- Find a park or walking trail that is near your home, preferably one with minimal inclines, over time they will be able to walk farther and farther. For patients that are just beginning exercising, a great place to start is a shopping mall, as they are air conditioned and provide ample places to rest whenever needed.
- The addition of a walking aid such as a walker or cane may be in order, these will help your loved one more easily get around as well as providing a fold out bench to sit and rest on whenever necessary.
- Be sure that your loved one knows they should not be embarrassed by the usage of supplemental oxygen while out and about.
- Any new exercise routines you plan on trying be sure to clear them with your loved ones doctor.
Preparing for Flare-Ups
COPD flare-ups are the occurrence of heightened symptoms such as breathlessness, mucus production, or chronic cough. Varying by patient, and you as a caregiver should know the signs of a flare-up as well as what you should do. Which is why it is so vital that you be prepared for the occurrence of a flare-up so you can get them immediate help, to prevent worsening symptoms and more long term problems. COPD flare-up tips to keep in mind:
- Be prepared for emergency hospital trips. Make an emergency hospital list and keep it in a common and easy to reach location, such as on the refrigerator, and on this list include medications, prescriptions, and doctors contact information that you can take with you to the hospital.
- Have an emergency hospital bag packed with all necessary clothing and personal items, that way you can quickly grab the bag on the way to the hospital knowing everything you need is already there.
- Ask your loved ones doctor if they should be using any short-term treatment options such as an inhaler, while waiting for medical assistance.
- Any sign of severe symptoms, you should immediately seek medical help.
Basic daily functions such as taking a shower or brushing your teeth can be extremely tiresome for your loved one, and when combined with the inability to get a good nights rest, you may find your loved one lacking energy. Help them get a good nights rest and take steps to reduce their fatigue by discussing the following with their doctor:
- Get a list of all the medications your loved one is currently taking, and talk to their doctor about the side effects of each one to see if one of them is the root to their sleeping problem.
- Furnish your loved ones shower with a handle or shower chair and a removable shower head, that way they can sit down when they begin to feel fatigued making it easier to breathe. Also consider a slip resistant mat to ensure their safety while bathing.
- A bed that allows for your loved one to adjust their body into an upward position, this will help them stay asleep throughout the night by allowing them to breathe easier.
To help you care for your patient, download our free e-book: 13 Simple Strategies You Can Use Today to Help You Prevent and Manage COPD Exacerbations.