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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Keeping Up with Chores and COPD

Elizabeth's father helps out with chores by doing the dishesI always know when dad is washing dishes. In fact, so do the neighbors. A loud clanking noise emanates from the kitchen which is almost always accompanied by his just-as-loud complaining.

He hates doing household chores, and with his COPD, everything becomes burdensome. Less and less, however, he gets away with not doing the dishes.

Yet he offers to wash the dishes, both as his own way of exercising and to help my mother and I as we prepare daily meals. But hearing him complain makes me laugh. He whimpers melodramatically, “It seems I’m always washing dishes.” He mumbles all the way through in Spanish and then the loud clanking of silverware and glasses resumes like a symphony.

I sit in my room and laugh. What else can I do? I know the truth – he hasn’t made contact with the sponge and soap in weeks – and not so much because of his COPD, but because simply, I don’t like how he washes the dishes.

At first, I took on the chore because I could see and hear how hard it was for him to stand for an extended amount of time at the sink. His legs and arms couldn’t hold on too long. And then he would gasp for breath as he placed the clean cookware in the dishwasher. But over time, I took on the task more and more. You see, he is stingy with the detergent and when he washes, I check-in and say, “Let’s see the bubbles and suds. Remember, the dishes aren’t allergic to dishwashing liquid.”

Of course, like in this picture, he leans on the sink counter and scrubs. I see the “suds” as he “rinses.” He knows I like to “bother” him so he takes the opportunity of my presence to vent: “Eh. I’m keeping up with the chores but it isn’t easy. I’m always washing…”

I just glance at him and he calms down. The good thing is that he knows how to pace himself and both my mother and I are on hand to assist. For the most part, he doesn’t ask for help. I have realized that he doesn’t feel so powerless when he is able to keep up with  chores. For now, it works for him.

For my fellow caregivers, here’s a great article on how to have “the talk” with your loved one about sharing the manageable chores. Leave a comment and share your story.

Follow Elizabeth's story on Twitter: @lizunga

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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.