Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
This month at the COPD Foundation we’re talking about exercise, physical fitness, pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab), and nutrition. A recent check in focused on options for starting a simple exercise program, talking directly to those diagnosed with COPD. Check in – Exercise. Try… Begin… One step at a time (copdfoundation.org). But what if you’re a caregiver for someone with COPD who feels that exercise is way beyond their ability—something they’d never consider pursuing on their own? Here are twelve things a caregiver, spouse, or other family member can do to help their person with COPD get started with exercise and/or pulmonary rehab.
- Be an advocate. It may be that your person with COPD is too overwhelmed and/or hesitant to talk with the doctor about exercise. As a caregiver, you can help by asking the doctor for a referral to pulmonary rehab, home exercise, or physical therapy. Steps 1,2, and 3 in this blog post Check in – Exercise. Try… Begin… One step at a time (copdfoundation.org) will tell you how.
- Do “low-level” exercises along with your person with COPD. They are described here: Check in – Exercise. Try… Begin… One step at a time (copdfoundation.org)
- If your doctor doesn’t know where the nearest pulmonary rehab program is, you can find one by going to: Program Directory :: Live Better
- Support your person with COPD by giving them a ride to pulmonary rehab, helping them into the building, and to the gym or classroom.
- If it is okay with the health care team, observe your person with COPD participating in pulmonary rehab sessions.
- Ask the health care team at pulmonary rehab what you can do at home to help your person with COPD get more out of the program.
- Talk with other spouses, family members, and caregivers who may be at pulmonary rehab observing their loved ones.
- Exercise together at home. It will be good for you too! Follow these links for videos: •COPD and Exercise | COPD Foundation •The COPD Pocket Consultant Guide | Patient & Caregiver Track (copdfoundation.org)
- Do strength training together using household items. A 16-ounce water bottle filled with water weighs one pound. If it is filled with sand, it weighs about two pounds. See this video for a demonstration: COPD and Exercise | COPD Foundation
- If you can’t exercise, stretch, or do strength training together at home, follow up by gently asking your person with COPD if they have begun doing any of these activities and how it’s going. Keep in mind that taking this on might be challenging—physically and emotionally—for your person with COPD. Be encouraging and positive.
- Do pursed-lip and diaphragmatic breathing techniques together along with this video: Breathing Techniques | COPD Foundation
- Enable weight loss or weight gain, if necessary, by helping provide appropriate nutrition for your person with COPD. Check in – Does it Matter What I Eat? (copdfoundation.org)
It is possible, even for individuals with advanced COPD and/or significant deconditioning, to move more, feel better, and breathe easier! You, the caregiver, spouse, or family member of a person with COPD, can offer help and support.
If you are a caregiver, we’d love to hear from you! If you are a person with COPD, do you have a caregiver experience regarding exercise and pulmonary rehab you’d like to share? If you are a person with COPD who doesn’t have a caregiver, what is your advice?
Let’s talk! I look forward to hearing from you!