At times, receiving the diagnosis for troubling symptoms can be a relief. Finally, you can name the condition, and get started on the plan to treat it! This is certainly the case for those with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If your senior loved one has been plagued by such debilitating symptoms as chronic coughing, wheezing, and fatigue, being diagnosed with COPD could be the first step in improving her quality of life.
In order to diagnose COPD, the doctor will want to:
- Assess the senior’s health and environment, to include smoking, exposure to pollutants, symptoms, and family health history
- Perform tests such as spirometry (breathing into a machine to check lung functioning), x-rays and blood work
- Create a treatment plan
Because COPD symptoms can be different from person to person, treatment plans can also vary widely. Here are some of the ways the doctor may try to help your senior loved one best manage her COPD:
- 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.
Whatever the doctor’s recommended course of action to help your senior loved one manage COPD, Best Senior Home Care’s supplemental in-home care can help enhance quality of life. If the senior needs assistance with maintaining dignity in performing personal care tasks like bathing and dressing, help around the house, preparation of meals, transportation and running errands, or simply the companionship of a kind, caring friend, our trained and experienced caregivers are here to help. Contact us at (718) 224-0905 to learn more.