Caring for a Loved One With COPD
You have seen the signs for a while. The coughing has been worse. The shortness of breath and the wheezing have been troubling. The changes in energy level have you up at night with worry. Now you can admit it, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is impacting your life, and these symptoms are not even yours.
Whether COPD is targeting your grandparent, parent, spouse or friend, it is a negative force. It significantly interrupts your relationship with the ill person, and in turn, disturbs your own mood and psychological well-being.
You begin to base your feelings on their feelings. When they are doing well, you will feel relief, at ease and peaceful. When their symptoms are worse, you will feel increased apprehension, depression and overall stress.
Of course, the focus during COPD treatment should be on the patient. Taking steps to decrease their symptoms while improving their quality of life is a must. Pay attention to yourself, though. If you are a COPD caregiver, you will need to care for yourself as much as you care for them. If you cannot take care of yourself, how can you possibly take care of anyone else?
The caretaker role is extremely important while being extremely challenging, draining and frustrating at times. Help yourself to help them. Here’s how:
1. Make the Choice
Do you want to be a caretaker for someone with COPD? Oftentimes, people become thrust into a caretaker role without even realizing it because other people leave a space that you fill.
Refuse to let other people take advantage of your kindness or manipulate you into something that you are not comfortable doing. Being a caregiver is a monumental task and one that you should not take lightly.
2. Get Educated
COPD is a chronic medical condition that is still not well understood by many people. Gaining an understanding of the illness gives you information that you can leverage into good decision making with the patient.
COPD is not one disease. It is actually an umbrella term used when discussing several diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma and some bronchiectasis. Talking to your loved one’s doctor about what factors contribute to their COPD is a great way to put your situation into a manageable perspective.