There are times when hearing a clear diagnosis for incapacitating symptoms can bring an immediate sense of relief. Finally, there’s a name for the condition, and a way to help! This is very often true for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If your senior loved one has been experiencing chronic coughing, wheezing, and fatigue, a diagnosis of COPD may be the first necessary step in helping to improve her quality of life.
Here’s what you can expect from the doctor in diagnosing COPD:
- Assessment of the senior’s health and environment, to include smoking, exposure to pollutants, symptoms, and family health history
- Testing such as spirometry (breathing into a machine to check lung functioning), x-rays and blood work
- Creation of a treatment plan
Since the symptoms of COPD are not always the same from one person to the next, treatment plans can differ widely. Here are just a few of the methods your senior loved one’s doctor may implement to help her better manage the disease:
- Medications, to include any of the following:
- Bronchodilators taken through an inhaler to help open airways, available in both short-term and long-term formulations, to work immediately as needed or to be taken ongoing for maintenance
- Steroids and corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation, swelling and mucous production
- Antibiotics to address any bacterial infections in the lungs
- Immunizations to protect against flu and pneumonia, as those with COPD are at a greater risk for complications from these illnesses
- Pulmonary therapy works to strengthen the lungs through guided exercise and nutrition.
- Oxygen therapy, available through liquid or gas oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators that utilize the oxygen already in the environment.
- Lung surgery may be an option if symptoms are extremely severe.
- Palliative care focuses treatment on improving quality of life, and is available to anyone diagnosed with COPD, regardless of the prognosis or stage of the disease.
- Clinical trials help researchers determine the success of new, experimental treatments, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Talk with your senior loved one’s physician to see if clinical trials are an option, and check the American Lung Association’s clinical trial search page for opportunities near you.
No matter what the doctor recommends as a course of action to help your senior loved one manage COPD, Live Well at Home’s in-home care providers can help with supplemental care to enhance quality of life. Whether the need is for respectful assistance with personal care tasks such as bathing and dressing, help with light housecleaning, meal preparation, transportation and running errands, or just the companionship of a kind, caring friend to talk with and share in enjoyable activities together, our fully trained and experienced caregivers are here for you. Call us at 916.459.3220 to learn more or contact us online by clicking here.