How can I help my elderly parent with COPD?

Millions of elderly people suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is characterized by persistent, limited airflow, apt to inflammatory reactions to noxious particles and gases present in the airways and lungs. Sadly, COPD is a progressive disease with no cure, one that can only be slowed down by treatments and changes in lifestyle.

What causes COPD?

The most common cause of COPD is inhaled cigarette smoke. Still, other noxious particles like “smoke from biomass fuels and occupational dusts and chemicals can also contribute to the chronic inflammation encountered with COPD,” according to Aging Well Magazine. The chronic inflammatory response can cause emphysema due to damage done to parenchymal tissue. Eventually, normal repair and defense mechanisms are compromised, resulting in small airway fibrosis, according to Aging Well. Eventually, pathological changes occur, making it harder to take air in as well as get it out.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

As mentioned before, inhaling smoke or other noxious particles can cause COPD. Here’s a list of common symptoms from the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute:

  • Constant coughing/”smoker’s cough”
  • Excess sputum (mucus from coughing) production
  • Feeling unable to breathe
  • Unable to take a deep breath
  • Wheezing

In severe cases of COPD, shortness of breath and the other above symptoms can make the simplest of tasks — walking, bathing, dressing and even eating — extremely difficult.

How is COPD treated?

While COPD can’t be cured, the aim of treatment is relieving symptoms, slowing the progress of the disease as well as preventing and treating complications and improving overall health (this includes staying as active as possible).

Lifestyle changes go hand-in-hand with treating COPD, including the following:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding secondhand smoke
  • Keeping home as dust free as possible
  • Avoiding the use of products with strong chemical odors
  • Avoiding the use of fragrant sprays and lotions
  • Using a humidifier (especially if living in a dry climate)
  • Keeping necessities nearby, especially those with less mobility due to COPD

Related: The COPD Caregiver Guide (via Caring Today)

If the correct changes are made, a person can live a relatively normal life for several years to come. Still, other diseases and illnesses — from flu to pneumonia to cancer — can greatly enhance the risk of death poised from COPD.

Encompass can help

Encompass Senior Solutions ”currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa” provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of the options available for those with COPD. Our professional staff can help properly implement the necessary lifestyle changes that will ensure the best quality of life for your aging loved one.

All Encompass services are directed by registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers with no long-term contracts.

Contact us today.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”