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If you are a caregiver for someone with COPD, you may have a lot of questions about how to best care for your loved one or patient. Being a caregiver is an important role, and it can come with difficult days. As such, it’s important to stay informed and get the answers to your questions as they arise to ensure that you feel as confident as possible about the care you provide.
Rest assured that there is a great deal of information available about how to care for someone with COPD. Read on to find out what you should know and get answers to the most frequently asked questions by COPD caregivers.
You are likely to feel a lot of responsibility as a COPD caregiver, but it is important that you know where you can go for support and information when you need it. Right from the start, have a list of doctors, health care providers, support groups and other resources you can call on when you need answers. Have a support system in place to ensure that you are able to take breaks when necessary and make sure you do not take on more than you can handle. It can be easy to become overwhelmed as a caregiver, so be sure you reach out for help before you get to that point. Remember: You can only do your job as a COPD caregiver if you take care of yourself, too.
Educating yourself can help you feel better prepared for being a COPD caregiver. Below, read the most frequently asked questions about caring for someone with COPD so that you can fulfill this important role as confidently as possible.
Attend as many medical appointments as you can with the patient or loved one you will be caring for, and make sure you take plenty of notes and ask questions whenever you have one. Ask the doctor where you can seek out additional information and continue educating yourself about COPD and COPD treatments. Carry a notebook or tablet with you so you can keep all the information in one place. If you will be administering medical oxygen, make sure you talk to the oxygen supplier so that you feel confident using the oxygen delivery device and performing any maintenance or care that may be required with the oxygen equipment. Learn how to properly clean all equipment and administer medication or treatments from the professionals and ask for help when you need it.
This is one of the more common questions, and one of the trickier ones to answer. It’s not uncommon for patients or loved ones to refuse to follow medical orders when it comes to taking care of themselves and their COPD. Patients may insist on continuing to smoke, may refuse to use their supplemental oxygen when they need to or may even refuse certain medications. Unfortunately, as a caregiver, part of your job is to make sure that the person you are caring for follows their doctors’ orders. Thankfully, you do not have to do it on your own. In order to improve compliance in your patient, try the following:
This is one of the most essential questions you can ask your patient’s health care providers as a COPD caregiver. You should know exactly what to look out for when it comes to your patient’s health and safety, as well as knowing when you need to seek additional medical attention for the patient. Though it is important that you get answers to this question directly from your patient’s doctor (there may be slight variations for each patient), here are some general concerns you should be prepared to look out for:
Since you are responsible for caring for your patient, it is vital that you take care of yourself, too. Schedule breaks throughout the day so that you do not get overwhelmed, and do not try to do more than you can reasonably do. You are only one person, and wearing yourself out puts you at risk of getting sick or experiencing depression or anxiety. You can only be an effective caregiver when you are both physically and mentally healthy, so consider seeking a counselor or therapist who works with caregivers. Make sure you have support in place for yourself, so that you can continue to support your patient.
If you think you might need help, you probably do—and that is okay. Everyone needs help sometimes, and caregiving is a tough job. If you feel overwhelmed or emotionally worn out, take some time for yourself to rest and relax. Talk to a trusted loved one or therapist and see what adjustments need to be made so that you do not get overloaded. If you are unsure what to do for your patient, seek outside help from their medical team. Remember: You are the COPD caregiver, not the doctor. You are not responsible for knowing exactly what to do at all times. Ask for help, so you feel good about the care you provide.
Being a COPD caregiver is an important job, but you should not do it alone. It is important to work closely with your patient’s entire medical care team to ensure that you have all the information you need when you need it, so that you can provide the best care possible. Ask questions when you have them and, when in doubt, seek help and support.