Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious and progressive respiratory illness affecting over nine million adults in the United States. It usually develops due to smoking but can also be caused by exposure to pollutants. This article talks about COPD in seniors and what they can do to help reduce its effects.
Understanding the Basics of COPD
COPD is a term used to describe two lung conditions that impair normal breathing through narrowing of the airways and damage to the tiny alveoli in the lungs: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Smoking is the most common cause of the condition. However, other factors such as exposure to pollution or dust mites may also contribute.
The main symptoms of COPD include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent coughing (with or without sputum production)
- Decreased activity tolerance
- Chest tightness
- Frequent infections
Other less common signs are swelling of the legs due to fluid buildup from lack of oxygen absorption in the lower extremities or widening of nostrils when trying to take full breaths. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately to get the proper diagnosis and treatment plan for COPD.
Making Changes to Reduce the Effects of COPD in Seniors
COPD is a serious and progressive condition. However, with certain lifestyle changes, it is possible to reduce the effects of COPD significantly. Some lifestyle changes to consider include:
- Quitting smoking can be the single most impactful action one can take to improve symptoms
- Getting daily exercise and eating a healthy diet that's low in sodium and fat while rich in antioxidant vitamins
- Getting vaccinated against flu, pneumonia, as well as other infectious diseases
- Avoiding pollutants like smoke from wood-burning stoves or even mold indoors
- Getting enough sleep every night
- Taking medications as prescribed by a doctor, such as bronchodilators for relief of tightness in the chest or steroids for inflammation control
- Participating in pulmonary rehabilitation programs, which teach strategies on how to breathe correctly and to get more oxygen into the lungs when needed
Although this condition will always have ups and downs, making minor adjustments can lead to significant improvements.
Get Help at Home to Support Your Efforts to Reduce the Effects of COPD
COPD is a serious, progressive respiratory illness that affects numerous seniors. Identifying and understanding its effects can help seniors cope and actively manage the disease.
Senior Helpers of Central Valley North, serving Fresno, Madera, Los Banos, Sanger, Selma, Reedley, and Atwater, can support seniors in their efforts to manage COPD by providing in-home care services. We can help with daily tasks, medication reminders, transportation needs, as well as provide companionship and a listening ear.
With the right support, seniors can live fulfilling lives and continue to enjoy their golden years despite the challenges of COPD. Call us today to learn more about our services.