PLYMOUTH — Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is one of the most significant health problems facing adults in the U.S. COPD is a leading cause of death, falling just behind heart disease, cancer, and accidents.

COPD represents a group of lung diseases, the two most common being emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is a progressive disease that becomes increasingly severe with age.

Symptoms of COPD include:

  • constant coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing up mucus
  • tightness in the chest 

Because of its progressive nature and with increased age as a leading factor, there is a greater occurrence of COPD in adults 65 years and older. Many adults can reduce their risk of COPD through lifestyle management.

The American Lung Association estimates that between 80 and 90 percent of COPD cases are the result of smoking. Secondhand smoke is a significant risk factor as well. Research also suggests that there may be a link between poor air quality and COPD.

Seniors should take these steps to reduce risk of COPD:

  • Older adults who smoke should get support from a primary care physician and take steps to quit. There are many programs, services and products that can help.
  • Seniors should avoid contact with secondhand smoke when possible.
  • Reducing exposure to air pollution can help reduce symptoms. Many cities issue poor air quality warnings. When these warnings are in effect, seniors should limit outside activities. 
  • Seniors should avoid airborne irritants like chemicals and fumes in the home.
  • A healthy diet and exercise plan, with direction from a physician, can improve lung function and overall health.
  • Older adults should understand the impact of aging on their respiratory system and how to reduce their risk of any related diseases, illnesses, or conditions.
  • Doctors may recommend getting vaccinations for both influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia in order to guard against further breathing complications.

Comfort Keepers Can Help

As part of a healthcare team, an in-home caregiver can assist with activities that slow the progression of COPD, or reduce the risk for those with respiratory issues. Comfort Keepers caregivers can help by supporting physician-recommended health programs, preparing meals, encouraging prescribed physical activity, reminding seniors to take medications and providing transportation to scheduled appointments. Call the local office today to discuss available services.


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