As unusual as it sounds, there are times when receiving a definitive diagnosis for debilitating symptoms can actually bring a great deal of relief. Finally, you have a name for the condition, and a plan can be put into place to treat it! This is definitely the case with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If your senior loved one has been overwhelmed by such symptoms as chronic coughing, wheezing, and fatigue, a diagnosis of COPD just might be the first step needed to improve her quality of life.

Here’s what you can expect from the senior’s physician in diagnosing COPD:

  • Assessment of the senior’s health and environment, to include smoking, exposure to pollutants, symptoms, and family health history
  • Testing such as spirometry (breathing into a machine to check lung functioning), x-rays and blood work
  • Creation of a treatment plan

Because COPD symptoms differ between patients, treatment plans can vary widely from one person to another as well. Here are some of the ways your senior loved one’s doctor may try to help her best manage the disease:

  • Medications, to include any of the following:
    • Bronchodilators taken through an inhaler to help open airways, available in both short-term and long-term formulations, to work immediately as needed or to be taken ongoing for maintenance
    • Steroids and corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation, swelling and mucous production
    • Antibiotics to address any bacterial infections in the lungs
    • Immunizations to protect against flu and pneumonia, as those with COPD are at a greater risk for complications from these illnesses
  • Pulmonary therapy works to strengthen the lungs through guided exercise and nutrition.
  • Oxygen therapy, available through liquid or gas oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators that utilize the oxygen already in the environment.
  • Lung surgery may be an option if symptoms are extremely severe.
  • Palliative care focuses treatment on improving quality of life, and is available to anyone diagnosed with COPD, regardless of the prognosis or stage of the disease.
  • Clinical trials help researchers determine the success of new, experimental treatments, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Talk with your senior loved one’s physician to see if clinical trials are an option, and check the American Lung Association’s clinical trial search page for opportunities near you.

Regardless of what the doctor suggests to help your loved one manage COPD, Lifematters can help by providing in-home senior care to enhance quality of life. Whether the senior’s requirements are assistance with personal care tasks like bathing and dressing, help with light housecleaning, meals, transportation and running errands, or simply an understanding companion to talk to and share enjoyable activities with, our fully trained and experienced senior care experts are here for you. Contact us at 301-652-7212 to learn more.