Shortness of breath and anxiety can work together to create a vicious cycle for your elderly family member with COPD. There are ways that you can help her to manage these episodes, though.
Understand the Vicious Cycle of Anxiety and Breathing Issues
Dyspnea is the medical term for shortness of breath. When your senior starts to feel as if she just can’t catch her breath, the dyspnea cycle is starting. The next stage in the cycle is that your senior’s body and brain start to panic because she’s not getting enough oxygen. Anxiety and panic then cause her body to struggle more to breathe, which is difficult to do and makes the dyspnea worse. This, in turn, makes her more anxious, which is why this is called a vicious cycle.
Prompt Her to Start Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed-lip breathing is a technique that allows your senior’s body to quickly overcome dyspnea. The technique helps your senior’s lungs to remove air from her lungs, which is often a problem with COPD, and bring in fresh air at a much better pace. To do this, your senior breathes in slowly through her nose and then breathes out slowly through puckered or pursed lips.
Encourage Her to Pace Herself
What your elderly family member does before, during, and after an episode of shortness of breath is vitally important. If your elderly family member is conserving her energy as much as possible, she’s going to be in a better position to be able to deal quickly with an episode of dyspnea. Encourage her in all her activities to pace herself and to avoid pushing herself too hard.
Daily Exercise Can Help
One of the reasons that your senior’s doctor recommends exercise for her is that it can help to strengthen her lungs and help her to deal with episodes of shortness of breath. Make sure that you and your senior understand what types of exercise are best for her and how to get started on that plan. You need to start slowly and steadily and help her to ramp up her activity level. Doing too much too quickly is only going to cause issues for her.
It’s really difficult to help your senior with this flow of events if you’re not there with her. You can use notes and other reminders, of course, but it’s even more helpful to have home care providers there when you can’t be to help remind your senior how to cope with shortness of breath and the anxiety cycle.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Health Care in Deerfield IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare In-Home Care & In-Home Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.
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