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Helping your Parent live with COPD

Helping your Parent live with COPD

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a common illness for senior citizens. COPD is characterized by persistent airflow limitation that is usually gets worse over time, causing the lungs to get inflamed as they respond to the presence of noxious particles or gases in the airways and lungs. COPD is most often brought on by years of smoking or exposure to toxic air chemicals. Symptoms include a chronic cough, labored breathing and an excess amount of phlegm that needs to be expelled from the lungs.

If your parent has been diagnosed with COPD, you might be looking at how you can make her home as safe and healthy as possible for her. COPD can be managed and those diagnosed with it can still live in the home but as a caregiver for an aging parent either living alone or with her partner, you may need to help her set up some new rules around the home to help her lungs stay clear and manageable.

No Smoking Zone

If your parent is a smoker, now is the time to finally have her stop smoking. Smoking will only continue to make her condition worse causing her lungs to get more inflamed and not be able to function properly. If your parent diagnosed with COPD lives with another person who smokes, that person will have to stop smoking in the home. Second-hand smoke can also do harm to your parent’s lungs. Any visitors should not be allowed to smoke in the home as well. Have yourself or your elderly care provider create a sign that goes on the front door explaining that no smoking is allowed. This will help your parent not have to be so confrontational with visitors.

Maintain Good Air Quality Inside

In addition to not letting anyone smoke inside the home, eliminate all items that may create fumes or strong smells in the home. If your parent has enjoyed lighting incense or candles to perfume her home, that will need to be eliminated going forward. Also, ask guests to not wear heavy perfumes or colognes while visiting. Don’t forget to mention this request to your parent’s elderly care provider as well.

Stay Inside When Necessary

Depending on where you live, outside air quality may be an issue. There are apps or weather alerts to alert communities of poor air quality. You can help your elderly parent program one of these to alert her when the outside air quality is not safe for her to do outdoor activities. Having an elderly care provider hired to run errands or perform outside chores when the air quality is not ideal will give your parent the ability to stay inside when needed. Your parent will also want to make sure windows and doors are closed on days when the air quality is especially bad outside.

Visit the Doctor Regularly

Having your parent maintain a consistent visiting schedule with her doctor will help her and you manage her disease and stay on top of any developments that may come up. Put the appointments on your parent’s calendar and then make sure you have transportation lined up for your parent’s visit, whether that’s provided by you, your elderly care provider or someone else.
Encourage your parent to be proactive in how she manages her COPD going forward. It can be a difficult disease to live with but with the proper precautions and regulations, she’ll still be able to stay at home while living with COPD.