COPD in Older Adults: Overcoming the Struggles of Face Masks and COVID-19
Seniors with COPD have had to remain particularly watchful since the COVID-19 pandemic started, because they are likely at both an increased risk for contracting the virus and for developing more severe complications because of this. A recently available research study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that COPD patients were more likely to be admitted into the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus compared to those without the disease.
Even though the CDC provides recommendations for all of us, including individuals diagnosed with COPD in order to avoid contracting the illness, such as regular handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever possible, one advisory is particularly a challenge for an individual with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association recommends that individuals diagnosed with COPD try a variety of different types of coverings to find the one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the home for brief amounts of time in order to become more accustomed to the sensation.
Additional recommendations include:
- Continue to take care of your COPD as suggested by the physician, with adjustments to curb your contact with others, such as telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
- Improve your body's defense system with a balanced diet and a lot of rest, and be sure to follow the doctor’s recommended plan for treatment.
- Take proper care of your emotional health to reduce anxiety and stress. Switch off the news and social media and participate in pleasant and gratifying activities instead. And be sure to seek advice from a mental health professional if needed for assistance with managing stress and combating depression.
Of particular significance for COPD in older adults is the importance of frequent 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, exercising is especially challenging. He, as well as the Respiratory Health Association, recommend (with physician approval):
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, at least 3 times each week.
- Try leg lifts, marching in position, and arm circles, utilizing canned goods or small weights.
- Go up and down stairs.
- Include deep breathing exercises.
These resources offer more useful information targeted to COPD concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The American Lung Association
- The Respiratory Health Association
- The COPD Foundation
- Living with COPD
For specialized in-home care services for COPD in older adults or other chronic conditions, get in touch with All Care In-Home Care Solutions. Our staff are professionally trained and knowledgeable in providing customized care to help make life safer and much more enjoyable. You may reach us any time at (541) 857-9195 for more information on how we provide the kind of senior services Medford, Oregon and other surrounding areas recommend most. To learn more about the different areas we serve in Oregon, please view the service areas listed on our Contact Page.