COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, causes severe breathing difficulty for your senior. She may experience periods where she’s short of breath and has pain or tightness in her chest. She can also have bouts of uncontrollable coughing with COPD. Here’s what she can do to try to slow down the progression of COPD.
Work with Her Doctor to Understand Triggers and Treatments
COPD doesn’t have a cure, but there are triggers that can aggravate the lungs and there are treatments that can help for a while. Your senior’s individual triggers will depend on any allergies she has and likely which type of COPD she has. She may have COPD with emphysema or with chronic bronchitis. It’s important that she understands how and when to take inhaled medications so that she can get the best results from them.
Stay as Active as Possible
COPD can very quickly cause your elderly family member to lose her ability to be as active as she wants to be. If she suddenly becomes very sedentary, she may find that it’s much more difficult to work back to even a fraction of the stamina and endurance that she had in the past. Because COPD is progressive, if she backslides and stops being active, she may run into serious issues and may find herself immobile far sooner than she expects.
Many people, but not all, who develop COPD are smokers. If that’s the case for your elderly family member, smoking is going to do her more harm than good. Quitting is difficult, but it can mean that your senior is able to have many more years, even with COPD.
Avoid Irritants that Cause Exacerbations
Once your senior knows her triggers, it can be important to avoid them so that she can avoid exacerbations, or periods where her symptoms worsen significantly. Some of the triggers she might have could include fumes from chemicals, dust, cooking smoke, secondhand smoke, and even pet dander.
Get Vaccinated Against Pneumonia and the Flu
Getting sick is going to be even harder on your elderly family member if she has COPD. Whether you’re talking about a common cold, the flu, or pneumonia, each of these ailments could cause her to end up in the hospital. She can’t do much about a cold, other than practicing good hygiene and avoiding people who are sick, but she should get vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia if her doctor agrees.
It’s better for your elderly family member to have help sooner rather than later if she has COPD. Hiring a caregiver allows your senior to conserve her energy, which is vital if she’s going to slow down the progression of COPD.