Caregiving is challenging, particularly when the person you are caring for has a condition like COPD. This article from the COPD Foundation shares what you need to know as a COPD caregiver and tips to help.
The role of the caregiver is an important one. Often, it is the greatest expression of love that can be offered. Caregiving can be hard, particularly when the person you are caring for has a condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Some people become a caregiver suddenly and without warning. For others, the role evolves slowly over time. Being a caregiver for a spouse, parent, friend or other loved one takes a lot of time. It brings intellectual and emotional challenges for both the caregiver and patient. However, the situation may also strengthen the relationship. It may provide a chance to grow even closer. The attitude of the caregiver may also change the patient’s attitude. A positive outlook by the caregiver can do wonders for the patient.
It is important to realize that you are not alone – there are over 40 million family caregivers nationwide. Family caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week, with many providing care around the clock.
As a COPD caregiver, your main focus will naturally be on your loved one. However, your own well-being is important for both of you. You must remember to take care of your own needs. Whether you recently became a caregiver or have been caregiving for a while, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You may be unsure of where to turn for information. It’s also normal to have a lot of questions. You may want to know:
- Where should I look for help and support?
- How do I keep track of medication and doctor visits?
- What are the signs and symptoms that show an exacerbation – a flare-up of my loved one’s symptoms?
- How will I know when it may be time to change my loved one’s disease management plan?
What You Need to Know as a COPD Caregiver
Caregiving can disrupt that person’s life. Especially in the early stages of the new relationship with the patient, it is not uncommon for both the patient and the caregiver to feel a loss of control. The patient may feel that they are becoming a burden. They may feel that they have lost self-worth because they cannot do activities that they once enjoyed. For the caregiver, the new duties can be challenging. One of the most important things you can do as a caregiver is to be informed. Educating yourself about COPD and your role can help you feel better prepared for your duties as a caregiver. It will ultimately benefit the overall health and well-being of your loved one. There are many resources available to support caregivers and help them stay informed. Family, support groups, and professional caregiver companies can offer services and advice.
Caregiving and the Shared Care Team
One of the best resources is your loved one’s health care provider (physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant). Working as a team with your loved one’s health care provider is helpful for both the caregiver and patient. The “shared care” treatment approach lets patients, caregivers and health care professionals work better together in helping to manage your loved one’s COPD. As a caregiver, you play an important role in your loved one’s shared care team. The caregiver and the patient must act as the “best advocates” for the patient’s health. No one else knows how the patient is feeling daily. The COPD Foundation COPD Pocket Consultant App is a resource to help you and your loved one get information and keep important information in one place.