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Living with COPD During a Pandemic

Living with COPD takes some adjustment at the best of times, but during a pandemic, having a chronic, progressive lung disease like COPD makes an already difficult situation even harder. If you have COPD, read on to learn how to navigate this COVID-19 pandemic by taking the extra precautions required by living with a chronic illness. 

How Social Isolation Helps Keep You SafeWoman with Facemask on Chair

We are living in an unprecedented time when most of the nation is practicing social distancing and social isolation. The majority of the United States has already issued stay-at-home orders, which help keep everyone safely in their homes and protected from being exposed to COVID-19. However, for people in high risk categories, like those with COPD, these stay-at-home orders are essential. The best way to avoid exposure is to stay home as much as possible to avoid being around anyone who could carry and spread the virus. 

This can be difficult for people who are chronically ill, however, because there are often medical needs that must be met. People with chronic illnesses usually have regular medical office visits, medications that must be refilled and oxygen supplies to maintain. Additionally, people with illnesses that make things like grocery shopping more difficult may rely on help from others. These things all become significantly more complicated when a stay-at-home order is in place and people are supposed to avoid contact with one another. 

How to Maintain Social Isolation and Get What You Need

So, if you have COPD, how can you meet all your needs while following the stay-at-home order and maintaining social isolation? Here are few ideas to help you weather this pandemic and get the supplies you need.

  • Look into telehealth: Many medical facilities and providers are now offering telehealth services, which means you may be able to have your doctor’s appointment over the phone or via video chat. This would allow you to stay home and avoid contact with the other people in the office, while still talking to your health care provider and getting what you need. While some appointments may still need to take place in person, particularly if you are experiencing COPD complications or if a lab test or scan is required, most appointments are flexible enough to be conducted over video or the phone.
  • Try delivery: Many pharmacies, medical service providers and grocers are offering delivery now, which can save you from having to go to a public place and risk exposure. If you are unsure whether they offer it, give your provider or company a call and find out if delivery is an option for you. Even if the company itself does not offer delivery, new delivery services are becoming available for people like you.
  • Ask for no contact drop-off: If you typically get help with certain things, like groceries or oxygen supply delivery, see about having items dropped off on your doorstep. If your provider does not offer delivery, contact a family member, friend or neighbor who is not in a high risk category about picking items up for you and dropping them off. This helps you avoid contact with other people, and still helps you get the supplies you need. 

If you absolutely cannot avoid going out for some reason, follow the CDC’s recommendations. Wear a face covering like those recommended by the CDC, even if you will not be in crowded places. Bring hand sanitizer to use whenever you have to touch a surface others have touched, avoid touching your face and wash your hands for 20 seconds as soon as you can. Wash your hands well as soon as you get home and wash your face covering so it is ready the next time you need it. 

How to Fight Feeling Isolated

Social isolation can leave people feeling lonely. This isolation can be particularly difficult for people with chronic illness who rely on others when they are not feeling well, and it is especially tough for people who live on their own. It may be harder to keep in touch and maintain relationships during quarantine, but it is not impossible! Try one of these options to stay connected and maintain your mental health. 

  • Pick up the phone: Many of us have gotten out of the habit of making phone calls, but now is the time to give your loved ones a ring. Particularly if you live alone, the sound of someone else’s voice can be a welcome comfort. Make a regular date to chat with someone at least a few times a week so you can look forward to sharing a conversation.
  • Try a video chat: Lots of people are relying on video chatting now to keep their social lives going strong. You can keep your regular morning coffee appointment with your breakfast club, or have lunch with your grandkids. Seeing the faces of the people you care about is an absolute pick-me-up. You may not be able to hug right now, but you can certainly blow a kiss.
  • Send some mail: It may have been a while since you had a pen pal, but there is no better time to pick up that epistolary habit. Write a postcard or a letter to family members or friends and ask them to return the favor. That way, you can look forward to checking your mail each day, knowing you will receive a note from someone soon.

Staying Home Means Staying Safe 

It is certainly not easy to be homebound, and knowing that you have to stay home because of the pandemic can be hard to stomach some days. Still, it is the best way to ensure that you stay safe and do not take any unnecessary health risks. Navigating this unusual time can be complicated, particularly when you are already living with a chronic disease like COPD. However, with the tips above, you can find ways to stay safe, get the things you need and stay connected with the people you care about most. 









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