Many seniors develop COPD as they age, even though breathing difficulties are not a natural part of the aging process. The severity of this disease can be challenging in many aspects. Losing your ability to breathe freely can create issues that make activities of daily living difficult.
Unfortunately, COPD is a progressive disease. The most important components of caring for yourself are:
1. Stop smoking and avoid air pollution; indoor and outdoor.
2. Limit your symptoms like shortness of breath by taking your medications.
3. Get regular activity.
4. If you have a flare-up, treat it immediately.
Our goal with this resource is to have more options that are either Minnesota based or more unique to the disease as a senior. Click on any of these resources and it will take you directly to their website.
The American Lung Association is committed to supporting those affected by COPD. We offer a variety of resources and information about the disease. Check out some of our key COPD support and education resources featured below. Or scroll down to explore our entire COPD section.
The Mayo Clinic is a national leader in almost all areas of medicine. They have continued to their tradition of medical leadership recently by providing testing for the recent COVID 19 pandemic facing the country. We are very fortunate to have them in Minnesota and as a potential resource for COPD care.
The COPD Foundation was formed in 2004 to help find treatments and a cure for COPD. Many people have one or more conditions that could lead to COPD. The foundation also works with caregivers to give them support and options as they cope with loved ones facing the disease.
There are a number of local support groups you can join to help to deal with the disease. The Better Breathers club has support groups that meet across the state as well as virtually.
Another type of support can be found in forums where people write about their experiences, answer questions brought up by others, or ask questions they have themselves. These informal groups can help develop that sense of community from your own home. This forum is provided by the COPD Foundation. Always consider the source of any answers you get on a site like this and follow up with your doctor if you have any concerns.
What You Can Do as a Caregiver
Your Role as Caregiver in Helping to Manage COPD is very important for Seniors. It’s prevalent in seniors to think that being short of breath is just another part of aging when in fact it can be related to many medical conditions including COPD. The key to managing most of these conditions is to get the advice of medical professionals and help the senior follow the advice. It’s often hard to exercise without someone else motivating you, but once you start you become self-motivated. Helping a senior as a caregiver is both a coaching and supportive role that you can play to help minimize the disease and rewarded by their continued ability to enjoy their life.
By tracking symptoms and finding triggers that worsen the disease, you can also help your loved one and your loved one's health care provider create a treatment plan. A COPD patient's treatment plan may include pulmonary rehabilitation, daily medical treatments and/or oxygen use. COPD medication devices need to be used in the correct way to make sure the patient receives the right amount of medicine. The caregiver should know the proper way each device is used and help your loved one as needed. If your loved one has any problems using a COPD medication device, you and your loved one can speak with his or her health care provider about considering other treatment options.
COPD is a disease that may progress over time which means it will get worse over time. As a caregiver, it is important that you are aware of the signs of COPD progression. Some signs that the COPD has become more severe include:
Symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing or chronic cough, have worsened
Reluctance to exercise or do activities that were done more easily
Experiencing more frequent flare-ups and trips to the hospital or clinic to treat COPD
An increased struggle in getting around the home, such as going up and downstairs
Trouble doing daily activities, such as dressing or showering
Increased depression or anxiety, especially when faced with the stress of any kind
Not leaving home due to COPD symptoms
Not leaving home due to COPD symptoms
For additional information and resources regarding Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, check out the following posts from our blog: