What is COPD?

What is COPD

In your role as a family caregiver, being aware of the risks that your aging parent is facing is one of the most important ways that you can help them to maintain their best health and live the lifestyle that they desire and deserve as they age in place. One of the risks that aging adults face is COPD.

If you have an elder care aide for your aging loved one with lung problems, you may already know a lot about COPD. If you don’t though, or if your elder loved one has just recently been diagnosed with the condition, you may be looking for more information and a better explanation for what it is.

Understanding COPD can help you to ensure that you are giving your aging parent the care that they need to either reduce their risk of developing COPD or to handle it properly should they develop one of the diseases in this group.

Let’s take a look at COPD so that you can get a better idea of what it is, and what it means for your elder loved one.

What is COPD?

COPD is short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and refers to a group of health problems and diseases that obstruct airflow due to progressive damage to the lungs. While it is most commonly seen in those who do or have smoked, it can and does develop in others as well.

As mentioned above, it does not just refer to one specific illness but is instead sort of an “umbrella term” for several of them. Some of these illnesses include asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. They can occur in anyone at any age, but COPD is especially associated with the elderly.

A person may have one of these, or they may have several, but if they have a lung problem, they may still say they have COPD either way.

Signs and Symptoms of COPD

The number one most recognizable sign of COPD is breathlessness.

This breathlessness, or inability to catch one’s breath, is often accompanied by coughing and wheezing, as well as tightness in the chest.

The symptoms of these diseases tend to develop quite slowly, which can make it more difficult for your aging parent to detect that they are suffering from them even as they start to notice that their daily tasks are being compromised.

Any symptom that signifies that it is difficult for your aging loved one to breathe is a sign that you need to get them help as soon as possible.

Risk Factors for COPD

Gender: Women are at twice the risk of developing chronic bronchitis as men.
Hereditary: COPD can run in families, so if you have an elder relative who had COPD, your risk of getting it yourself would be higher.
Age: The risk of developing chronic bronchitis increases with age. 70 percent of those who are suffering from chronic bronchitis are over the age of 45 and more than 90 percent of cases of emphysema throughout the United States occur in people over the age of 45.
Location: In the US, the greatest prevalence of COPD is in the Southeast and the Midwest, likely due to lifestyle choices and careers.

Causes of COPD

In some cases, the cause of COPD is not known. But often, it is caused by breathing in harmful chemicals, such as those in polluted air, or those in cigarettes.

A lifetime of smoking is one of the most common ways to get COPD, so if your loved one has been smoking for years, you and your elder care aide should do your best to help them to stop.

Secondhand smoke can also contribute to COPD, even if the person themselves has never smoked a cigarette. Living with smokers who smoke inside the home, or living in a polluted area for an extended period of time can wreak havoc on the lungs, and can open one up to disorders like COPD.

Facts About COPD

Some things that you should know about COPD include:

– COPD is not contagious.
– Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common types of COPD.
– The symptoms of COPD are progressive, which means that they will develop and change over time.
– Medical intervention can often slow the progression of symptoms and ease their intensity for improved quality of life.
– It is estimated that more than 64 million people throughout the world are suffering from some form of COPD.
– Approximately 24 million people suffer from COPD in the United States alone.
– More than 10 million people throughout the United States are currently suffering from chronic bronchitis.
– Approximately 4.7 million people throughout the United States are currently living with emphysema.
– Recently the number of cases of emphysema in women has increased while the number of cases in men has decreased.

Treatments Options for COPD

Now that you know more about COPD, you can better understand what your elder loved one might be going through if they have it. Luckily, there are many care treatment options for COPD, and talking to a doctor can clue you in on what you need to do. Sometimes, it could be as simple as getting an inhaler, or doing some special breathing exercises to calm the lungs.

Contact Sonas Home Health Care

If your aging parent has been diagnosed with COPD or is at elevated risk for this condition, now may be the ideal time for you to consider starting elderly homecare for them.

The personalized services of an elderly home care services provider are tailored specifically toward helping your parent manage their care in a way that is right for them.

An elderly homecare services provider can be with your aging parent on a customized schedule designed not just to address your loved one’s COPD symptoms or risk, but their other individual challenges, needs, and limitations, as well as their desire for independence, activity, and engagement.

This means not only taking into consideration the physical issues that they are facing and the symptoms that they deal with on a regular basis, but also their personality, goals, thoughts, and opinions. Through this set of services your parent can live a lifestyle that is fulfilling, active, and independent while also staying as healthy as possible moving forward.

A caregiver can provide reminders to help them remain compliant with their medications and treatments, and encouragement to make the lifestyle decisions that are right for their disease and their individual needs.

This can help your parent to live an enjoyable lifestyle even as they deal with the consequences of their health conditions.

As a family caregiver, this can give you reassurance that your parent will be as safe, healthy, and comfortable as possible as they age in place both when you are able to be with them and when you are not.

If you or an aging loved one are considering homecare services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care. Call today (888) 592-5855.