What Caregivers Need to Know About COPD
By Dr. Harlan Weinberg, Medical Director of Pulmonary Medicine, Northern Westchester Hospital
Living with someone who has COPD can be very challenging. Not only are there challenges in helping the patient with treatment and preventing exacerbations of COPD, but the condition can really limit the caregiver’s lifestyle as well. Good communication between the caregiver, the patient and the doctor is extremely important. You have to keep an open three-way channel. This will help you figure out when you can manage a situation at home or when you might need to make a trip to the emergency room.
Learning to recognize the exacerbation of symptoms is crucial. Is the patient struggling to breathe? Is he or she using the chest and abdomen just to get air? The lips and fingertips may also begin to take on a bluish hue when oxygen is in short supply. Knowing the symptoms and the solutions is critical for caregivers. I recommend caregivers attend appointments with the patient and become familiar with the medications and potential treatments in situations where breathing may worsen. Caregivers should also be sure to speak to the doctor or medical staff when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Caregivers can contact the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center at NWH for support services.
Northern Westchester Hospital provides pulmonary rehabilitation services to adults and children age 7 and older.