Discussing COPD with Your Loved Ones

Senior man with COPD using an oxygen tank
If discussing COPD with loved ones feels difficult, let JFS Care, provider of Jewish senior services in Los Angeles and nearby areas, share some helpful tips.

It began with your inner circle, those closest to you, and has gradually been spreading outward to close friends and acquaintances. Discussing your COPD diagnosis and knowing how to answer the many questions that arise about it can be uncomfortable – for you personally, and for those you are speaking with as well.

Surprisingly, you could find that the largest challenges are in speaking with your primary caregiving partner – the person who is closest to you personally. The caregiver/care receiver relationship can raise a number of emotions, making discussing COPD more difficult. The person on the receiving end of care may feel insecure and self-conscious as a result of needing assistance, which could result in feelings of anger and frustration, just to name a couple. The care provider may feel incapable of meeting all of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright exhausted from attempting to handle someone else’s care needs along with their own.

There are several key techniques to improve communication with your caregiving partner:

  • Make sure you’re both completely educated about COPD and the corresponding symptoms and treatment options, together with its typical progression. The doctor can provide resources for both of you to better understand what you’re facing.
  • Do not beat around the bush. Honestly and clearly state your feelings and needs.
  • Listen to the other person – and let them know they are being heard. Nod, maintain eye contact, or use other nonverbal indicators to demonstrate you’re listening. 
  • Be assertive without being controlling. Your emotions are valid and deserve to be discussed in a constructive way without lashing out at the other individual.
  • Avoid argumentative phrases and words, such as, “You always…” or “You never…”.  The individual will probably become defensive, intensifying hurt feelings.
  • Remind yourself that nobody is a mind-reader. If you’re assuming your caregiving partner knows what you are thinking or how you are feeling merely by your actions, it opens the door to misconceptions. 
  • Maintain respect and empathy for one another. The two of you are facing uncharted territory and evolving challenges and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.

It’s also a wise idea to call a time-out if emotions start to escalate. Take a break from each other while focusing on calming activities, such as listening to music, reading, exercising, or writing in a journal. When you both feel calmer, try the conversation again.

At JFS Care, we understand the stress that may arise when battling a chronic health condition like COPD, and we are available to help. Our helpful caregivers make ideal companions to talk with and spend time with, engaging in enjoyable activities. We work with family caregivers to make certain they have time necessary for self-care, while enriching the lives of the seniors for whom they care. Contact us online or call (213) 383-2273 to find out more about our senior services in Los Angeles. Please visit our Service Area page to learn about all of the communities we serve.