Shortness of breath, coughing, and other COPD symptoms can have real effects on your daily life. Everything is a bit more difficult when it’s hard to breathe. Your family and friends are good to lean on during this time, but they might not fully understand what you’re going through.
That’s where a support group can help. When you join one of these groups, you’ll meet other people who are living with COPD, just like you.
They can teach you tips to help you manage your condition. They’ll also give you a feeling of community. Just being around other people who have lived with the same condition can make you feel less alone.
Support groups come in different forms. There are in-person support groups held at your local hospital or through an organization like the American Lung Association. There are also virtual groups available online. And if your partner or a family member is caring for you, they can join a caregiver support group.
In-person support groups provide a forum for people to talk about their experiences living with COPD and ask questions. These groups usually meet at hospitals, medical centers, or rehabilitation centers.
Leading each group is a moderator who helps to steer the conversation. Usually, the moderator is someone who is trained to work with people who have COPD.
When looking for a support group in your area, a good place to start is with the doctor who treats your COPD. Ask if your local hospital offers one of these programs.
The American Lung Association has a program called the Better Breathers Club, which has been around for more than 40 years. You can search online for one near you. These support groups will give you the tools you need to stay healthy and active.
Each Better Breathers group is led by a trained facilitator. Meetings feature guest speakers, advice on how to solve common COPD challenges, and social activities.
A few organizations and websites host virtual support groups and networks. They offer free advice to help you manage your condition.
The COPD Foundation promotes COPD research and tries to improve the lives of people with this condition through education and awareness. Its online community, COPD360social, has more than 47,000 members. It offers inspirational stories and tips from other people who have COPD.
The American Lung Association offers this peer-to-peer online support group. Here you can share your own experiences in managing the disease. You can also learn about pulmonary rehab, oxygen, and other ways people have found relief from COPD symptoms.
This social network brings together people with COPD to share their insights on treating the condition. It includes personal stories, questions and answers, a searchable provider directory, and a way to locate people in your area who have the same diagnosis.
Facebook is also home to a few COPD support groups:
For most Facebook groups, you’ll ask to join and the moderator will approve you.
An online forum is a place where people can post messages and get responses. It’s also known as a message board. COPD forums are good places to find answers to your most pressing questions about your disease.
Remember as you read through the responses that the people posting are typically patients, not doctors. Not all of the advice you get will be medically sound. Always check with your doctor before following any health tips you find online.
Here are a few online forums for people living with COPD:
COPD symptoms like shortness of breath can severely limit your ability to care for yourself. As the disease gets worse, you may need to increasingly rely on a partner or other family member to care for you.
Caregiving is hard work. And though it can be rewarding to care for someone you love, it can also be physically and emotionally demanding. Finding a sense of balance and getting support is critical for any caregiver.
In-person and online support groups are available to help caregivers find the resources they need. Here are a few organizations and online communities that offer support:
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Caregiver Support Community
- The Caregiver Space Community
- Caring for the Caregiver
COPD can introduce many challenges to your life. No matter how strong you are, you’ll probably find that you need to lean on other people for support.
Start by asking your doctor and other members of your medical team for advice. Then look for support groups, both in your local area and online. Having a support system in place can be invaluable when you feel lost, need advice, or just want to talk to someone who understands.