Good COPD/Bad COPD: Caring for someone with COPD

copdCaring for someone with COPD has its good days and its bad days, depending on whether the person with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is having a good day or bad day. There will be plenty of both, though the latter might seem to outnumber the former. On a day when COPD is really acting up, the patient is likely to take it out on you. A way to deal with this is to take some time to yourself – ideally an hour – to allow cooler heads to prevail and be able to talk things over later when both caregiver and care receiver have calmed down. During that time you may or may not listen to some music to soothe themselves – we recommend Fuel’s Bad Day, Bad Day by R.E.M, or Daniel Powter’s Bad Day. But not the Justin Bieber one; that’s just depressing.

Had a bad day again (she said I would not understand)

The person with COPD may justifiably claim that you do not and cannot understand what they are going through. And it’s true; short of developing COPD yourself, there is no way for you to fully comprehend what the disease entails. What you can do, though, is learn as much as you possibly can about the condition: definition, causes, symptoms, treatment, coping, and so and so forth. For instance, did you know that COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema? Not only will this knowledge enable you to put yourself in the place of your loved one – in so far as that is feasible – but it will let you know what to expect as the disease progresses – and if you know what to expect, you know how to react to it.

 It’s been a bad day (please don’t take a picture)

There will be times when the care receiver suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will feel a little more than not photogenic, what with symptoms of the condition including blueness of the lips or fingernail beds, weight loss, swollen hand and feet, cramped muscles, poor sleep, etc. Keep in mind that – and to put it very bluntly – the person may not only look terrible, but they also feel terrible. As a caregiver, your duties include doing all that you can to improve your loved one’s quality of life. That involves:

  • Encouraging pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy.
  • Helping with medications.
  • Tagging along for doctor’s visits.
  • Monitoring the person’s condition.
  • Looking for and joining support groups.

You had a bad day

As much as caring for someone with COPD becomes the focus of your life, you must not lose sight of your own self and get lost in the shuffle. The rule of thumb is that taking proper care of yourself means that you can take proper care of your loved one as well. Beyond that principle, you’re also entitled to a life of your own, with your own dreams and goals. That is why joining a support group is as valid a piece of advice for the caregiver as it is for the care receiver. A support group allows connecting and sharing your experience with people that are going through similar situations and who might otherwise be strangers. Conversely, don’t forget that people you do know; spend time with family and friends, socialize, don’t become isolated, go out, exercise, keep a hobby, and above all, get plenty of sleep and rest.

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