One of the first reasons that people get diagnosed with COPD is that they are experiencing more frequent episodes of shortness of breath. Those episodes never really go away as your senior progresses with COPD, so it’s important to learn how to manage them.
Remind Her to Pace Her Activities
When your elderly family member can pace herself and to conserve her energy, shortness of breath is a little less terrifying for her. This means that activities that she used to do quickly might take her a little more time now and that needs to be something she accepts. She may also want to consider handing over some tasks to other people, like you and elder care providers, so that she can conserve her energy.
Her Doctor Might Recommend Exercise
Pulmonary rehabilitation involves using exercise and breathing tips to overcome the challenges of lung issues. Even if your senior’s doctor doesn’t recommend pulmonary rehab for your senior, her doctor might recommend exercising more. This might involve your senior starting out very slowly and gradually increasing her activity level as she improves her strength and her endurance.
Anxiety Can Feed Shortness of Breath
Anxiety is a common side effect of COPD and it doesn’t help shortness of breath in the slightest. As your senior becomes shorter of breath, her anxiety ramps up. That anxiety then turns into even more trouble breathing. If she can interrupt that train of thought, she can start to get a handle on both the anxiety and the breathing issues. Sometimes medication can help to keep the anxiety at bay, but you want to make sure that your senior understands the potential side effects before changing medications.
Use Tools Like Pursed Lip Breathing
Techniques that help to reduce shortness of breath involve helping your senior to calm down and to remove air from her lungs so she can draw fresh air in. One of the techniques your senior might need to learn is called pursed lip breathing. To start, your senior should breath in slowly through her nose as deeply as possible and then breath out through her lips, puckering them as she exhales.
Even though shortness of breath is part of dealing with COPD, that doesn’t mean that your elderly family member must just accept it every time it happens. The more tools and techniques she has to help her to manage the experience and the feelings, the better.
Excerpt: Being short of breath can be terrifying for your senior with COPD. These tips can help.
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