COPD is a cumulative lung ailment that may include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and non-reversible asthma. Senior individuals suffering from this are characterized by difficulty in breathing that doesn’t usually improve with time. However, proper management and lifestyle changes may improve quality of life.
Smoking restricts the absorption of oxygen and deposits nicotine in the lungs. With seniors, this can be problematic and should be stopped accordingly. Physicians will be able to determine the needed management and therapy approach to help an individual stop smoking. In managing COPD, these therapies could be in the form of:
- Nicotine patches
- Self-help methods to decrease nicotine cravings
- Group therapy for individuals who also wanted to quit smoking
Food and Activity Changes
It can be hard for clients suffering from COPD to have a healthy and balanced diet. Exercising may also be restricted due to respiratory problems so finding the right one should be discussed with a medical professional.
- Take small frequent meals using smaller plates
- Drink water before eating
- Consume one portion of fresh vegetable or fruit with your meals
- Take 5-10 minutes walking as an aerobic activity. Stretch bands may be used for muscle strengthening. Physical activities may require medical approval so it is best to talk to your physician before getting into any type of exercise.
Some individuals struggle with getting adequate sleep due to respiratory distress. It may help to do the following:
- Avoid napping to make room for better rest during bedtime
- Avoid taking on stimulating tasks such as exercising 2 hours before sleeping
- Should you want to get some light meals, go for small portion rich in protein snacks like cheese or a cup of nuts
- Avoid drinking coffee before 3 pm
There are breathing techniques to help individuals manage COPD.
- Do diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose while pushing the stomach out. This exercise strengthens the diaphragm muscles.
- Do pursed-lip breathing. Use diaphragmatic breathing and then purse your lips when you slowly breathe out. This maximizes the drawing in of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide.
Keep Your Lungs Infection-Free
Since the lungs are already compromised, it is not uncommon for COPD patients to develop infections. You may be able to prevent this by:
- Getting vaccines as recommended by your physician. Influenza vaccines (given yearly) and pneumonia vaccines (given every 5 to 7 years) are preventive shots you can take to keep infections at bay.
- Proper hand washing is another simple preventive measure to keep germs and viruses from invading the body.
Avoid Mucus Build-Up
Mucus collected in the airway can restrict natural flow of oxygen causing difficulty in breathing. Most COPD patients use bronchodilators to help expand the airways and bring mucus out.
- Practice deep coughing. Take a deep breath and keep it in for 3 seconds. Then, using your stomach muscles, expel the air.
- Practice huff coughing. Take a deep breath then using your stomach muscles do a ‘huff’ three times as you exhale.
Managing COPD for seniors may vary per individual so making the necessary appointments are needed for further assessment and medications.
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