Care Blog

Living with COPD During the Pandemic

Seniors living with COPD have needed to stay especially watchful since the COVID-19 pandemic began. They are not only more likely at greater risk for contracting the virus, but also at higher risk for developing more serious complications because of COPD. A recently available research study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that COPD patients were more prone to be admitted to the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus than those without the disease.

And while the CDC gives recommendations for all of us in order to reduce the possibility of contracting the virus, such as frequent handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever possible, one recommendation is especially a challenge for someone with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association suggests that those with COPD try a number of different kinds of coverings to find one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the house for short amounts of time in order to become more used to the feeling.

Further suggestions include:

  • Continue to control your COPD according to the doctor’s prescribed plan, with adjustments to limit your exposure to others, such as telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
  • Improve your immune system with a healthy and balanced diet and a lot of rest, and make certain to follow the physician's recommended plan for treatment.
  • Take good care of your emotional health to minimize anxiety and stress. Switch off the news and social media and engage in soothing and enjoyable activities instead. And be sure to check with a mental health professional as needed for help with managing stress and preventing depression.

Of particular importance for anyone with COPD is the need for regular 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, physical exercise is particularly challenging. He, and the Respiratory Health Association, suggest (with doctor’s approval):

  • Aim for no less than 30 minutes of exercise every day, at least 3x each week.
  • Try leg lifts, marching in position, and arm circles, using canned goods or small weights.
  • Go up and down stairs.
  • Incorporate deep breathing exercises.

These resources offer additional useful information specific to COPD considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

For reliable in-home care for those diagnosed with COPD as well as other chronic conditions, turn to the caregivers Salem, Oregon (and surrounding area) families trust at New Horizons In-Home Care. Our staff are professionally trained and knowledgeable in providing customized care in order to make life safer and much more enjoyable. Reach out to us any time at a location nearest you: Salem: 503-400-3000, Eugene: 541-687-8851, Corvallis: 541-752-9059, or Florence: 541-997-8115.

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