Seniors with a COPD diagnosis have had to remain especially careful since the COVID-19 pandemic started, as they are likely at both a much higher risk for contracting the virus as well as for developing more severe complications than others. A newly released study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that COPD patients were more likely to be admitted to the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus than those without the disease. Managing COPD symptoms in a pandemic takes diligence and mindfulness, but isn’t impossible.
Even though the CDC provides recommendations for all of us, including individuals with COPD in order to avoid getting the illness, such as regular handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever you can, one advisory is especially a challenge for an individual with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association advises that individuals diagnosed with COPD try a variety of different kinds of coverings to find one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the house for short periods of time in order to become more familiar with the sensation.
Additional suggestions for managing COPD symptoms in a pandemic include:
- Continue to manage your COPD as recommended according to the doctor, with modifications to curb your contact with other people, such as telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
- Boost your body’s defense system with a healthy and balanced diet and a lot of sleep, and be sure to follow the physician’s recommended plan for treatment.
- Take proper care of your emotional health to reduce anxiety and stress. Turn off the news and social media and participate in relaxing and gratifying activities instead. And make certain to seek advice from a mental health professional as needed for assistance with managing stress and combating depression.
Of particular significance for anyone with a COPD diagnosis is the importance of regular physical exercise. According to David Au, MD, professor at the University of Washington Medical School’s division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, due to the fact that COPD causes shortness of breath, doing exercises is particularly challenging. He, along with the Respiratory Health Association, suggest (with physician approval):
- Aim for a minimum of half an hour of exercise every day, at least three times weekly.
- Try leg lifts, marching in place, and arm circles, utilizing canned goods or small weights.
- Go up and down stairs.
- Include deep breathing exercises.
These resources offer additional helpful suggestions specific to COPD concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The American Lung Association
- The Respiratory Health Association
- The COPD Foundation
- Living with COPD
For reliable in-home care for those with COPD as well as other chronic conditions, turn to JFS Care. Our staff are thoroughly trained and knowledgeable in providing individualized care to help make life safer and much more enjoyable. You can reach us any time at (213) 383-2273 to learn more about our senior in-home care in Los Angeles and the other communities we serve.