Focus: Telecare and COPD
Today, 16th November 2016 is World COPD Day. COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, describes a group of lung conditions that make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because the airways have been narrowed.
Living with COPD makes it difficult to breathe, meaning everyday tasks can be a real challenge, and mobility may be impaired.
3 million people in the UK live with COPD, but millions more across the UK have COPD and don’t even know it. They’re struggling with their symptoms and a lower quality of life, and their condition is progressing quickly because they’re not receiving treatment.
The British Lung Foundation's website* offers some tips to help manage COPD. And we've added one too - GET A LIFELINE ALARM!
1. Be active
It’s important for everyone to stay active and control their weight, but especially if you’re living with COPD. NICE guidelines for COPD recommend that you get regular exercise in a pulmonary rehabilitation class which you can be referred to by your doctor. Exercise can help you to manage your breathlessness, reduce flare-ups and it’s also a great chance to meet new people.
2. Talk to others
Having a long term condition like COPD can put a strain on any relationship. Difficulty breathing and coughing can make people with the condition feel very tired and depressed.
It is also inevitable that their spouse, partner or carer will feel anxious or even frustrated about their breathing problems. It is important to talk about your worries together. Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. But do not feel shy about telling them that you need some time to yourself, if that is what you want.
With severe COPD, the increasing breathlessness can make it difficult to take part in activities. The breathlessness may occur during sexual activity, which may mean your sex life can suffer.
Communicate with your partner and stay open-minded. The BLF have really useful information about sex and breathlessness which has lots of great advice on this topic. Share your experiences and problems; there will always be someone that can help.
3. Have your flu vaccine
If you have COPD, getting flu can cause lots of problems and trigger a serious flare-up of your condition. It’s so important that you get your annual flu jab, and encourage the people around you to get one too.
4. Take things slowly and plan ahead
Pacing yourself is essential. From the moment you wake up you should think about how to save your energy and reduce feelings of breathlessness. It’s important to get to know your body and the best ways for you to manage your condition.
Maybe a certain chest clearing technique works really well for you, or there are certain times of day that are better for some activities. This can mean you have to do lots of planning for each day, but your life might be easier in long run.
5. Regular reviews
As COPD is a long term condition, you should get regular help and advice from a health care professional (HCP). The BLF's COPD patient passport can help you have those conversations with your HCP as it looks at all the essential care you should receive.
6. Keep warm
Winter is coming and cold weather, so make sure you stay nice and warm. If you’re going outside wrap up and try putting your scarf over your mouth, it will stop some of the cold air from irritating your lungs.
If possible try and go out at the warmest times of the day and avoid peak times.
If you have any questions about your condition you can call the BLF Helpline on 03000 030 555, Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm, where a team of qualified nurses are ready to help.
7. Consider a Lifeline Alarm!
We recommend a telecare Lifeline alarm for anyone living with a long-term condition, and COPD is no exception. This is because any rapid onset of symptoms means you can raise the alarm quickly, resulting in emergency treatment at the earliest opportunity. When you join Lifeline, we know your medical background so there doesn't need to be any time wasted in explaining the sudden decline in health or increase in breathing difficulties. What's more - it could even save your life.
This World COPD Day, the British Lung Foundation is urging people to raise awareness of COPD, to help find the missing millions and help them get the treatment and support they deserve.