Living with COPD
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) makes it hard to breathe. As a result, it touches all aspects of daily life: eating, bathing, housework, and socializing. Not being able to breathe is very frightening for the patient and for those who love them. People with COPD frequently end up in the Emergency Room.
There are things you can do in daily life that will go a long way toward preventing such crises. Your loved one may need help with this. But better breathing and avoiding the ER are worth it!
Anyone living with or helping someone with COPD will find it is a big job. And it takes its toll. In addition to daily assistance, COPD is unpredictable. There are good days and bad days. Your loved one can tire easily and may need to cancel even the most cherished plans.
The inability to make plans and get out of the house can be especially hard for spouses who are used to doing things together. “Cabin fever” is common for both the patient and family members. So is depression.
The importance of breaks
Staying cooped up and becoming depressed yourself will not be of service to the person you care for. You need to cultivate other activities to recharge your batteries.
Isolation and depression
Isolation frequently leads to depression in both patients and their partners. It has also been linked with worsening physical health among family caregivers. Unfortunately, spouses tend to feel guilty if they go out with friends or engage in pleasurable activities. But isolation only puts their own health, and ability to care for their loved one, at risk.
Solutions to “cabin fever”
- Create personal time
- Set aside time each day for a pleasant activity unrelated to caregiving. Even just 10 minutes reading a favorite book or talking with a friend can do wonders.
- Stay active
- Do something physical every day, even if it’s just a walk around the house or yard.
- Reach out
- Maintain relationships with others, even if just by phone or email. Join an online support group to connect with people who understand.
- Do something carefree
- Take a real break now and then. Do something carefree. There are 168 hours in a week. Taking one or two hours for personal time without responsibilities is not too much to ask!