When someone you love has chronic lung disease, such as COPD, it can change both of your lives. As a caregiver, you may have to support your loved one in new ways. This may be true whether you are caring for your spouse, your partner, a family member, or a friend. Learning some ways to cope can help you and your loved one.
It’s normal to feel a range of emotions. You may feel sad, or afraid. At times, you may be angry, or frustrated. It’s important to accept these feelings. They are normal. If you find yourself feeling stressed, seek help by reaching out to family members or friends. Also, speak with a healthcare provider. He or she can refer you to a counselor and other support services.
Take time to manage your health and to refresh your mind and spirit. This gives you the energy to do your daily routine. Here are some basics that are important to your health:
Get enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours a day. Keep naps short so you can sleep at night. Limit alcohol and caffeine. These can affect how well you sleep.
Eat right. What you eat affects how you feel. Don’t skip meals. Eat balanced meals with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat meat and dairy products.
Exercise. Try for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Breaking up your activity into three 10-minute sessions can make it easier.
Your needs are also important. Give yourself permission to maintain a life of your own. Take breaks from caregiving to relax and have fun. Here are some suggestions:
Share a meal with a friend.
Think about ways to relax. Take a walk, try yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Create a space in your home where you can be alone when needed.
Try to get away, even if it's just for a short time. Go to a friend's house, or take a drive or a long walk.
You may need help with caregiving. Knowing you can count on others can be a relief. Keep these tips in mind:
Make a list of things other people can help with. Ask family and friends to handle tasks such as running errands, giving rides, or preparing meals.
Make use of adult daycare and respite services, and home health aide programs. These provide temporary care for your loved one, when needed. Check the Internet or the phone book for organizations.
Look for resources in your area:
There may be a support group for people with chronic lung disease and their caregivers. This can help you feel that you’re not alone. You’ll learn coping strategies and get advice from others going through the same things you are.
Religion and faith-based organizations may be a source of strength and support for you also. Reach out to a leader in your faith community to discuss your spiritual needs.
The American Lung Association has an online support community. Their website is www.lung.org. There is a link from the Lung Disease page.