FAQ for Caregivers

Here are some of the most common questions asked by caregivers, along with answers to help you - the caregiver - care for your loved one and yourself. The questions and answers provided in this section are for informative purposes only. Please consult with a medical professional for any medical questions.

What support resources are available to COPD caregivers?plus

The COPD360social networking platform is a valuable tool for COPD caregivers. Members of the community have the opportunity to not only share information and support with other caregivers, but reach out to the respiratory experts on the site. Connect with the community here.

How do you find time to do it all?plus

It is very stressful for one caregiver to do it all. If you do not have friends or family who can help, there are organizations to help you with a variety of caregiving needs. The COPD Foundation provides online support through our social community, COPD360social.

Where can I find out what services are available in my community?plus

How can I get more help from other family members and friends?plus

Consider hosting a family meeting to discuss what needs to be done and divide up the responsibilities according to individual preferences, capacity, and availability. When friends offer help, have a list of chores on hand, and give them something specific to do. If people are willing to help, take it. This will help alleviate any stress you may have, and you can focus on other things on your list.

Why is caregiving so hard?plus

It is difficult to see someone you are caring for struggle with their health. In addition, caregiving can create a change in family dynamics. There can be great sadness, feelings of isolation, and stress due to lack of leisure and personal time. It’s important to take the initiative to improve the quality of life for both your loved one and yourself. By feeling better, you can help your loved one feel better.

How can I encourage my loved one to do pulmonary rehabilitation?plus

Pulmonary rehabilitation is very important to improve the health of an individual with COPD, therefore it’s important that they regularly go to rehabilitation. To encourage them, talk directly to other COPD patients who have experienced first-hand that pulmonary rehabilitation has improved their quality of life. You can find many discussions on this topic on COPD360social. You can also show them the resources and information available on this website about the effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation.

How can I tell if caregiving is putting too much stress on me?plus

Common signs of caregiver stress include the following: feeling sad or moody, crying more often than you used to, having low energy level, feeling like you don’t have any time to yourself, having trouble sleeping, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, having trouble eating, eating too much, seeing friends or relatives less often than you used to, losing interest in your hobbies or the things you used to do with friends or family, and feeling angry at the person you are caring for, at other people, or at situations.

What should I do if I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed?plus

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you are caring for someone else. Talk to your family doctor and/or clergy about your feelings. It’s also good to try to take time to do something for yourself. Stay in touch with your friends and family members and ask them for help in giving care. There are several great resources listed above under the "Where can I find out what services are available in my community?" question.

What should I do to prepare for a doctor’s visit?plus

Have a current list of medications with dosage information including over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins or minerals the person you are caring for is taking. Also, keep a daily diary of symptoms and how the patient responds to treatments and medications. Bring these with you when you visit the doctor. Keep your loved one’s medical history as detailed as possible. Make a list of any questions you may have and don’t forget to have your insurance and Medicare cards with you.

The COPD Foundation Pocket Consultant Guide App and the My COPD Action Plan (PDF) can help you and your loved one keep important information in one place.

When should I call the doctor?plus

Call the doctor when the patient shows signs of:

  • Increased difficulty breathing during normal activities
  • Increased coughing or a great deal of chest pain when coughing
  • Increased mucus production
  • Swollen hands or feet
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Bloody mucus or mucus that is green or yellow
  • Shortness of breath that wakes the patient in the night

These symptoms can be signs of an exacerbation of COPD. Follow the doctor’s recommendations of what to do at the first signs of an exacerbation, including calling your doctor or emergency medical assistance.

What can I do if I cannot afford the medications?plus

Medications for individuals with COPD can sometimes be expensive. There are organizations with patient assistance programs that help get medications for free or minimal charge. Visit the Medicine Assistance Tool provided by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Some drug companies will provide their medications for free or at a minimal charge, so check with the manufacturer of your prescriptions to see if they have any assistance programs you may be eligible for.

What is respite care?plus

The purpose of respite care is to allow time off for the regular caregiver, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days. This can include options like adult day care. Adult day services are community-based group programs designed to meet the needs of functionally and/or cognitively impaired adults through an individual plan of care. In these programs, adults can participate in activities, games, and social interaction. Some adult day care programs may also offer various medical services.

For more information visit the Medicare Interactive web site.

How can I keep track of the medicine schedule?plus

Make yourself a chart with medication name, dosage amount, time of day to be taken, and a place to check off after the medicine has been taken.