Whether you're a spouse, child, friend, or sibling, the role you play in helping the person you're caring for manage their COPD is invaluable. Your support can have profound effects on your loved one, and it can be extremely rewarding for you as well. Read below about some of the ways you can contribute as a caregiver, and visit our COPD Stories page to hear about other people's experiences.
COPD is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. For this reason, monitoring your loved one's symptoms and taking note of when they flare up can give you a better sense of how their COPD is progressing. You may find it helpful to keep a diary to track how your loved one is feeling day to day and if any symptoms are particularly bothersome. Download our My Diary tool to help you and your loved one track their COPD progression.
If you notice any new or worsening symptoms, or if you feel that your loved one’s medication isn’t working effectively, talk to your loved one about discussing their treatment plan at the next doctor’s appointment. Finding a plan that works starts with a conversation.
Some people living with COPD may feel ashamed of their condition, or may feel the need to conceal the fact that they have COPD. In reality, avoiding the condition and refusing to talk about it only make it more difficult for your loved one to manage their symptoms.
By keeping the lines of communication open between you and your loved one, you can offer a reliable source of support without judgment. Remember, learning to talk about COPD can be as important as learning to manage the symptoms themselves.
Your opinion can be extremely valuable in helping your loved one make treatment decisions with their doctor. Because you see the way your loved one's condition progresses day to day, you can offer the doctor another perspective that they may find helpful in evaluating your loved one's COPD.
You can also play an important role in making sure your loved one takes their medication as prescribed. This can range from keeping track of refills and picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy to keeping a medication chart that follows whether any medication was skipped on a given day.
Long-acting medications are intended to be taken on a regular basis, so even if your loved one is feeling well, it's important that they take any treatments as prescribed by their doctor.
COPD symptom exacerbations, or flare-ups, may happen from time to time. And occasionally, they may require hospitalization. This can be a blow to your loved one's independence and can shake their self-confidence.While it's important not to minimize the seriousness of an exacerbation, it’s essential to stay positive. By keeping a positive outlook and offering support, you can help your loved one recover from their exacerbation and regain some control over their condition. You may also find this to be an opportunity to reevaluate your loved one's treatment plan with their doctor.