What's In This Article
Being a caregiver is tough work. Here are some COPD FAQs and a little support to get the job done without losing your hair.
The daily physical and mental challenges can be overwhelming for those who care for loved ones with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to the Pew Research Center, there are currently 40.4 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. with 9 out of 10 of these caregivers providing care to an aging relative—usually parents.
As the baby boomer generation continues to age and become the fastest growing demographic segment in the U.S., it has become clear that the younger generation (Generation X) has had to step up in order to accommodate the changing health of their family and loved ones.
Although reactions to the necessity of caregiving can be mixed, with aging patients feeling as though they may be a burden to their loved ones and feel compelled to help despite the physical and mental toll, caregivers often feel the brunt of this assistance.
In many cases, caregivers can feel overwhelmed and need little support.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give a helping hand with our 5 Leading COPD FAQS for Caregivers.
5. How Can I Find The Time To Help?
Finding free-time when burdened by a busy schedule can be difficult. When looking to create opportunities to provide more care for an aging parent or relative, it’s important to create time for oneself as well as for one’s loved one.
There are 16 waking hours in the day, with 8 presumably being dedicated to work. For the remaining 8 hours, it takes effort and planning to make sure those hours are utilized to the absolute max.
If you plan your day out down to the minute, you won’t waste a second.
4. Where Can I Find Help In My Community?
A terrific resource to use is Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116) which can direct you to the Area Agency on Aging in your local area. They can provide information on resources that serve persons aged 60 years or over.
3. When Is It Time To Ask For Help?
Caregiving can be a stressful endeavor, and it’s important to maintain one’s health and quality of life as much as possible.
During times of intense stress, it’s expected that you may feel sad or moody, to cry, to have a low energy level, have trouble eating or eating too much and losing interest in your passions and hobbies.
When you notice yourself start to feel some of these symptoms, it may be time to recognize that you are overwhelmed and need help.
And remember, it’s okay to ask for help and take care of yourself.
2. What Do I Do When I Need Help?
When you feel as though you may be at your breaking point, it may be time to ask for help. Talk to your family doctor, a family member, a friend or even a neighbor and ask for a little help from time to time.
If you feel completely bogged down or uncomfortable sharing your feelings, consider talking with a mental health professional.
Because mental health counselors have varied knowledge, resources, and tools, they can help you learn ways to cope with your challenges, teach you techniques for remaining calm and be an objective listening ear.
1. What Resources Are Available To Me?
For support, COPD360social is a networking platform available for COPD caregivers. Within this online social group, members can share information, stories and support other caregivers. If you prefer meeting in person, talk with your doctor or local hospital to find caregiver groups in your area.
The Relationship Between Caregivers and Patients
The profile of a caregiver is typically a child or relative of an aging patient and is usually a woman. These caregivers are roughly 45 to 64 years old and make up 23% of adults within their age bracket.
To put this into perspective, in 2009, over 20% of Americans over 75—more than 3 million older people—required assistance with basic activities such as using the telephone, traveling outside the home, preparing meals, doing housework, taking medications and managing money.
In judging the type of care received by aging parents, it may be quick to assume this type of help is strictly financial.
In fact, most caregiving for seniors is through the execution of basic tasks such as errands, housework or home repairs.
Caring for Those You Love
It can be incredibly difficult to balance your love for the individual you’re caring for and the responsibilities of your own health, life and well-being.
In many cases, caregivers are both overwhelmed professionally, financially and physically, as the task—and toll—of caregiving for a parent or relative can feel as if it is a non-stop second job.
The stress of this role may feel as though it is in direct conflict with the love and sense of responsibility for caring for a relative, parent or loved one. In many cases, the caregiver’s personal health is often the thing that loses.
In this sense, achieving a sense of balance in one’s life and the life of the person you may care for is important.
Thanks to the care, love and support of caregivers like you, many people with COPD and other chronic conditions can live a fuller, more enjoyable life.
We hope these COPD Caregiver FAQs help you. It’s important to know the road ahead in the treatment of COPD. Although COPD can seem insurmountable, the first step to living a longer life is finding a treatment that addresses the disease head-on.
Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. For people with lung disease, a change in the quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.