Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (commonly referred to as COPD) is an umbrella term for several lung conditions that your parent could suffer from. These lung conditions make breathing difficult by restricting airflow. The two most common lung conditions that fall under the COPD umbrella are emphysema and chronic bronchitis and many people who have one will have the other.
If your parent has been diagnosed with COPD, your next steps might involve helping her to manage her COPD while living at home. There will be things you both can do to help her reduce her current symptoms as well as to help her prevent the disease from progressing.
- Stop smoking. If your parent is still a smoker, with the development of COPD, it’s imperative now more than ever that she quit smoking. The
cigarette smoke will only continue to inflame and do more damage to her lungs. Talk with your parent to help her determine what resources and supports she needs to stop smoking and quit for good. If any of her visitors (like yourself, your elder care provider, or any family safely in her bubble) are smokers, make sure all are aware that there will no longer be any smoking in her home. If she lives with a smoker, having that person quit is the best option as well.
- Protect her lungs. Colds, flus, and other respiratory infections will inflame your parent’s lungs and cause her breathing problems to get worse. Simple, day-to-day good health practices such as washing her hands, avoiding large gatherings, and getting her flu and pneumonia vaccinations will help to protect her lungs. Your parent’s elder care provider can help by sanitizing the home when she visits or running errands to prevent your parent from going out when not necessary.
- Alter her diet. The right mix of nutrients in your parent’s diet can help her body to breathe better. Metabolism of carbohydrates produces the most carbon dioxide for the amount of oxygen used; while metabolism of fat produces the least. Eating a diet with fewer carbohydrates and more fat can help some people with COPD to breathe easier. At the next shopping trip, have your parent pick more foods that have complex carbohydrates such as whole grain bread and pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, and beans. She should also seek to avoid foods that are loaded with trans-fat and saturated fat. Have her and her elder care provider create a list of good foods and bad foods for the next grocery trip to help guide her purchases.
- Use medicines and medical devices properly. Your parent and you, as her caregiver, should feel comfortable knowing how and when to use her inhaler, as well as any other medication or medical devices to help her breathe better when attacks happen or just to maintain good breathing. When possible, attend the doctor appointments with your parent so you can also learn how to help her live comfortably and help her body get the oxygen it needs at all times.
Having your parent diagnosed with a long-term chronic condition can make you fear the future and unsure of how-to best deal with today. Your parent is probably feeling the same way. By doing some research and having a good team to help, you’ll both manage the disease instead of having the disease manage you.
If you or an aging loved one are considering in elder care in Charlotte, NC, please call the professional staff at Caring at Heart today at (704) 379-7510. Serving Charlotte, Statesville, Ballantyne, Mooresville, Huntersville, Matthews, Concord, Gastonia, Pineville and Indian Trail.