A woman helps her aging father with managing COPD symptoms at home.

Coughing. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. If you’re caring for a family member with COPD, you know these symptoms all too well. Your goal is to help the person live their highest possible quality of life, but it’s not easy. Though there is currently no cure available for COPD, it is treatable, and there are steps you can take as a family caregiver to help with managing COPD.

What Can You Do to Help Someone With COPD?

There are several key aspects to managing COPD:

Modify the home.

Take a walk through the person’s home, paying special attention first to ventilation and air quality. Windows should be open, when possible, to boost ventilation, but closed if the air quality outside is poor, or when conditions are dusty. Exhaust fans and air filtration systems can also help. Make sure the humidity level is balanced. The air shouldn’t be too dry or too humid, both of which could attract irritants. Next, make certain there aren’t any indoor pollutants, such as cigarette or fireplace smoke, perfume, and hair spray. Dispose of clutter, which collects dust. The home should always be kept as clean as possible, using gentle cleaning products without harsh chemicals or strong scents, and changing bed linens regularly to eliminate dust mites.

Improve the diet.

A balanced and healthy diet provides someone with COPD with the extra calories and energy they need to prevent and recover from chest infections and to ease breathing. In particular, encourage a diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds, and nuts with limited red meats and processed foods. It’s particularly crucial to reduce salt intake, as salt causes water retention which makes it more difficult to breathe. It’s also helpful to make certain the day begins with a breakfast that is full of nutrients. The reason being, fatigue can prevent someone with COPD from getting enough calories, and frequently the person will have the most energy first thing in the morning. The person should, however, steer clear of that morning cup of coffee, as caffeine can react negatively to COPD medications and lead to feelings of restlessness or nervousness.

Encourage exercise.

Following a regular exercise routine will help an individual with COPD build muscle strength and endurance, which can help them breathe easier. Upper body exercises are important for better breathing and to make it easier to remain independent and perform daily activities. Lower body exercises, such as climbing stairs or walking on a treadmill, have also been found to help those with COPD. Physical activity can be split up into small chunks. As little as a few minutes of activity several times per day is helpful. Remember to include breathing exercises, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, to enhance respiratory strength. Always check with the doctor before beginning or changing any fitness program, but a great rule of thumb for breathing exercises includes five to ten minutes, three to four times each day.

Bring in help.

An in-home caregiver from Compassionate Nursing Services can help in many ways to improve life for someone with COPD. Our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in a wide array of personalized care services, such as:

  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Preparing nutritious meals
  • Providing motivation to exercise, take walks together, etc.
  • Friendly companionship to brighten every day
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and outings
  • And more

Contact us online or at 314-432-4312 to learn more about our home care services in Oakville, Des Peres, Clayton, together with the surrounding areas.