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Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Protecting Dad's Lungs from Fall Chills

Elizabeth Santeramo's father wears his warm fall jacket. I’ve literally got my father’s back.

It’s that time of year again when getting dad to wear warm clothing is like convincing a child to wear a hat in a snowstorm.

When he was first hospitalized for pneumonia several years ago, it was summertime. When fall arrived, my father acted as if he was in top-notch health. In those days, we still lived in New York City. And while my parents had a car, parking was on the street, not in a building garage, meaning that often, they had to walk home. More often than not, my father would leave his jacket in the car. He would carry it in hand initially, lay it across the back seat, and then fuggetaboutit.

Since then, every season is a struggle.

The puzzle I try to solve is this: my father seems to be temperature-challenged. Here’s what I mean.

Now that we’re in New Jersey, my parents pull right up to the building front door and their car is parked in the garage. There is a chill factor – from the car to the entrance, but at least they’re not walking city blocks. Nevertheless, my father’s jacket, sweater or coat continues to reside on that back seat, ready for the next day’s outing. Clearly, he hasn’t worn it throughout the day.

Soon after they arrive home, the heat seems high throughout the apartment. So much so that I think hot flashes are upon me.

Sure enough, papa bear has tinkered with the thermostat we control in our unit. It is hiked. Mom and I are melting – not from menopause, but from dadopause.

When I ask him about the thermostat, I get the usual. “No, Lizunga. I haven’t touched it.” Right. When I mention that I’m returning it to the green 70°, Suspect #1 says, “But it’s cold in here.” Aha!

Yes. My father wears summer attire all year long, thus the chill factor indoors. Yet when he goes outside, he claims “It’s not that cold. I’m too warm with the jacket.”  So outdoors in the fall and winter, he’s warm. And in his nestled cocoon, he’s cold.

Yesterday I had a heart-to-heart with him and said, “Tomorrow it will be chilly. Please try to protect your lungs. Don’t play with your health now that you’ve stopped smoking.”

He nodded. He agreed. Together, we made sure his favorite fall jacket was handy.

Learn more about COPD and weather changes

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.