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What Caretakers Need to Know about COPD
I joined a new group on LinkedIn called COPD Disease Management. I asked members for topics they feel are important to share with caretakers. Here’s what they had to say.
Jean shares, “I'm a patient, but…families and caretakers ought to know…[about prescribed meds] and what should be done if they don't work or seem to have adverse effects. They need to understand the need for supplemental O2…what systems are best for which kinds of patients. They need to understand what the patient can do for himself: exercise, a healthy diet, keeping weight under control. Another important topic is depression and how to treat it…COPD is not a death sentence…there are things the patient and family can do to make things a whole lot better.”
Mary had a double lung transplant last December and now cares for Jim.
They have “spent the past several years learning as much as possible about the
disease, developing and teaching classes on COPD.” They add, “We feel that we
know more about the day-to-day aspects of living with lung disease than do many
providers. Exercise is difficult. Given the shortness of breath brought on by
activity, it is so easy to shy away from it...” but as Mary shares, “I am
living proof that regular exercise allows the COPD patient to live…comfortably
and productively.” As for using oxygen, Mary points out, “To avoid wearing the
cannula for the sake of ego or embarrassment…is to risk low oxygen saturation...
[which] results in damage to the body, including the heart and brain. Lost
brain cells do not grow back.”
Mike uses the Krames COPD Booklet which is a layman’s guide. As he explains, “I also sit down and explain everything to each of my [patients]. I also go over nutrition and exercise programs. I go over lung function… what COPD is and what types of COPD there are. It takes me about 1.5 hours to go over this and…it is a lot of info for a [patient] to understand…I want them to feel that they have their own personal therapist.”
Dr. Bhome, a pulmonologist from India, adds, “It’s heartening to note the positive attitude exuding out of so many patient comments. I spend much time with my patients to educate them.”
Like Mary says, “A positive attitude and a sense of humor will help
tremendously in maintaining the sense of control that is so easily lost, given
a chronic condition such as COPD.”