With nearly 12 million Americans living with COPD and another 12 million not yet diagnosed, chances are good that you may know someone living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. With this growing number of Americans affected by the disease, the need for informed and capable caregivers is more critical than ever. As someone who may be the primary caregiver of a COPD sufferer, you may feel that you have been thrown into the caregiver role and that you are unsure where to start.
So what is COPD? It encompasses diseases that block the airflow to and from the lungs and make breathing difficult. The damage done to the lungs that causes COPD is irreversible. Symptoms can be controlled and further damage stopped, but it cannot be repaired. The unfortunate thing is that symptoms do not usually appear until damage is significant. The most common are chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
Symptoms can include:
- Constant mucus productions
- Chest tightness as the airway linings become thick
- Wheezing and an irritating cough
- Breathlessness due to hampered airflow
- Scarring in the lungs
- Lack of energy
- Blueness in the fingertips and nails
Lung disease is often very stressful for loved ones and their family caregivers. People with COPD frequently experience difficult and uncomfortable symptoms that are difficult to manage alone. They struggle coping with their debilitating shortness of breath as well as their dependency on oxygen. They also face the stress of frequent hospitalizations. In fact, over half of patients with COPD are readmitted to the hospital within twelve months.
It is highly recommended that patients with COPD obtain care to help manage their illness. Why? Because COPD is tricky to treat. Patients can go months in a stable condition. Then they sometimes experience rocky episodes called exacerbations. This is where very unexpectedly the symptoms can worsen for a period of days or sometimes longer. COPD is highly unpredictable.
Did you know that Hospice of Montgomery may be able to help? Individuals with advanced COPD may be eligible for hospice care. Hospice of Montgomery, with our strong interdisciplinary approach, can greatly improve quality of life for people with advanced COPD. Our specialized teams of caregivers are uniquely trained in the management of COPD. By providing services to relieve pain, control symptoms and reduce anxiety and stress, we can help make this difficult time easier and help families facing COPD return to living as fully as possible.