The official blog of the Lung Institute.
A Look Inside the Life of a Caregiver
It’s difficult when someone you love has a chronic lung disease like COPD. From going through your daily routine to traveling to doing the things you enjoy doing, lung disease can take a large toll on both the patient and the caregiver. At the Lung Institute, we understand how difficult diagnosis with a chronic lung disease can be, and we are here to help you. Recently, we spoke with Mr. Lundgren, a former caregiver for his wife, to have a look inside the life of a caregiver.
When was your wife diagnosed with COPD, and what was her treatment regimen?
She was diagnosed around 2000. She took breathing treatments, O2 at night, steroids, a rescue inhaler and several other meds. It was a grocery sack every three months.
What did you and your wife enjoy doing together?
We traveled a lot every summer. We went to Glacier National Park or the Grand Canyon. Sometimes we went to other places, too.
How did that change after diagnosis?
After diagnosis, our trips had to become shorter, less walking. Our last trip was 5 years ago to Alaska on a ship. It took her weeks to recover upon return.
She would have to stop and rest several times just to walk a short distance. When we visited the parks, we would want to see the sites, but she couldn’t walk far because she just couldn’t breathe well. It was sad.
Did your wife ever smoke?
Yes, she was a smoker. She smoked two packs a day, but she quit smoking ten years before her diagnosis.
How did you help your wife through daily tasks?
I feel like I helped her indirectly because she didn’t require a lot of physical help, but she was unable to do anything that required a lot of movement. I had to help her more as the disease progressed, especially near the end of her life. She lost a lot of weight; we just couldn’t keep weight on her. That’s when she became so weak. I took her to all of her appointments, and I tried to be there for her.
As a caregiver, what was your biggest challenge?
For me, it was the stress that this was chronic and degenerative. It also really limited our long term travel and activity plans.
As a caregiver, what was your biggest success?
How we supported each other the best we could.
Do you have any advice for other caregivers?
I wish I had some words of wisdom, but the truth is you’re watching someone die slowly. Make the best of the time you have. If possible, maximize the energy the patient has and do as much as can be tolerated. If the patient has symptoms, go to the doctor soon, and make sure the patient gets cultures to ensure the correct meds. Try new treatments because you never know what will help.
The Lung Institute thanks Mr. Lundgren for participating in our interview and for sharing some of his and his wife’s story. COPD and other chronic lung diseases are challenging to live with for the patient, the family and the caregiver. However, with advancements in medical technologies, medications and alternative treatment options, there is hope.
The Lung Institute offers adult autologous stem cell treatment options for patients with chronic lung disease. Stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own body, separated in the lab and then returned to the patient. Because the stem cells are the patient’s own, the risk of rejection is significantly minimized. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, or any chronic lung disease, contact us at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for treatment.