Watching a family member suffer with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is not an easy thing to do. However, seniors living with COPD can greatly benefit from having a caregiver who is knowledgeable about the disease and how to treat it.
5 Star Home Care’s owner, Kenny Higdon, believes that, “Getting patients with COPD back to a functional quality of life is absolutely doable. Part of that is staying in the mind-set that caregivers can help.”
5 Star provides assistance to Tennesseans living with a disability or recovering from an injury, illness or age-related need. This includes seniors who struggle to breathe because of COPD, a condition of emphysema and chronic bronchitis usually caused by smoking or other long-term exposure to lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes or dust. The progressive disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Severe COPD may prevent someone from doing basic activities like walking, cooking or taking care of oneself.
To have a better understanding of how a caregiver can improve the life of a loved one living with COPD, here are 10 ways that 5 Star Home Care caregivers help their patients’ feel better and slow the progress of the disease:
“Shortness of breath is distressing, can make patients fearful, and often leads them to withdraw from physical activity,” says Higdon. It can also be scary for someone to watch a loved one struggle in this way. But caregivers help encourage patients to do physical things on their own, even if it’s walking to the mailbox. This helps strengthen their muscles and prevents symptoms from worsening.
Seniors suffering from COPD may want to withdraw from being sociable, which can cause depression. By making sure that they stay involved in social activities, caregivers have the ability to help curb that depression.
3. Avoid Irritants
There are many factors that can irritate a patient’s lungs, including chemical smells, environmental pollutants, tobacco smoke, etc. Caregivers can help avoid situations and being outdoors when these irritants are present, by being constantly aware. In turn, they can also be patient and helpful when irritants are unavoidable.
4. Record Symptoms
It is very important to make note of symptoms daily and to recognize whether they are worsening. Caregivers can help in this process by noticing if there is any change in specific symptoms, such as increased coughing, exhaustion, swelling in the extremities, or worsened ability to breathe. Recognizing these symptoms earlier can affect the impact and length they have on the patient.
5. Attend Doctor Appointments
There are very big benefits to having a second person attend doctor’s appointments. A caregiver can be a second set of ears, ask questions that may not be thought of, and take notes to refer back to later.
6. Give Medicine
It is very important for patients with COPD to take their prescribed medications regularly and as scheduled. “Many patients think they can use their inhaler as needed, but it’s like any other medication and needs to be taken as prescribed,” says Higdon.
7. Facilitate Rehab
Caregivers need to attend rehab sessions and understand pulmonary rehabilitation exercises in order to help their patients. “It shows the caregiver how much patients actually can do for themselves,” Higdon says. These exercises can increase strength and increase the quality of the patient’s daily life.
8. Find Balance
It is absolutely essential for family caregivers and patients to find a balance between managing a chronic disease and taking time to have a normal daily routine as well. By taking time to yourself, as a caregiver, you will maintain a better quality of life too.
9. Openly Discuss and Communicate
It may not always be easy to voice frustrations or concerns, but keeping the lines of communication open will help alleviate unnecessary issues that could arise otherwise.
10. Ask for Help
“Having a network of people is crucial,” says Higdon. Family, friends, and other social networks are great resources when you need additional support. Medical professionals and doctors can also help you be as knowledgeable as possible about COPD. “Educate yourself and know that COPD has a place in the patient’s life and your own, but it doesn’t have to be the complete focus,” says Higdon.
Such a support system can help to ease the challenges of coping with COPD, but this may extend beyond relying on family and friends alone. 5 Star Home Care stands ready to provide help to families who need compassionate caregivers trained to provide assistance under a variety of circumstances.
About 5 Star Home Care
Higdon started 5 Star Home Care in 2007 after his own mother took on the responsibility to care for his grandmother. 5 Star carefully screens caregivers before hiring them and connects them with clients across Tennessee. For families who are concerned about the health and safety of their loved one, reach out to 5 Star Home Care at (423) 893-8181.
Realizing how precious our seniors are, 5 Star employs the most qualified caregivers who are hired only after undergoing careful background checks and drug screens. The company’s procedures are tailored to work towards constant monitoring, care management and never placing the senior at risk of being left without care.
5 Star Home Care is headquartered in Chattanooga and serves clients throughout Tennessee.
Home care services exist to provide the basic services that facilities do – light housekeeping, meal preparation and social activities – without removing the senior from the familiarity of home. It is a cost efficient alternative to an assisted living facility that preserves the aging loved one’s sense of freedom and comfort.
If you are struggling with how to best care for an aging or disabled relative, call or visit www.5starHomeCare.com at 423-893-8181 today.