Owner's Blog

Does Your Elderly Relative Have Emphysema?

By Dawn Hill

Theodore’s father was getting worse, with fatigue, coughing fits and wheezing. He struggled to breathe every time he climbed the stairs and didn’t seem to have any energy during the day. Theodore was surprised to learn from the doctor after an examination that his father appeared to have emphysema. Thinking that was only a smoker’s disease, Theodore knew that he and his father had a lot to learn so that treatments would be most effective.

Emphysema is a disease that describes how the air sacs within the lungs become damaged and therefore are unable to do their job well. As the place where oxygen from the air is distributed into the bloodstream, the air sacs will not be very efficient if they are damaged, stretched, collapsed or withered. Without as much oxygen in the bloodstream, the body suffers. It is usually triggered by smoking, but airborne chemical exposure, chronic asthma and respiratory illnesses over a lifetime can also cause emphysema.

There’s no cure for emphysema and treatments can only help manage the symptoms. The doctor will prescribe medication to keep the cough under control and may encourage the use of anti-inflammatories or pain relievers. Also, sessions with a respiratory therapist can also help the aging adult a lot. In a therapy session, the senior may get a breathing treatment and instruction on different breathing exercises. Working together, the emphysema symptoms will slowly get under control.

Emphysema is not reversible, so to help seniors avoid stress in their lives that might trigger a flare-up, many family caregivers do what they can to reduce the stress and strain of daily activities. Modifying the home can make a difference in how an elderly relative gets through the day. Effective modifications include grab bars by the tub and toilet, a shower chair, and lever handles on the sink faucets. Anything that can spare the aging adult from pushing themselves physically too hard and give them support is a good investment in modifying the home.

Family caregivers with aging relatives who have emphysema also look at long-term care and assistance in the form of senior care providers. This means they hire professionals that come into the home and assist with day-to-day activities that their aging relatives cannot. From housekeeping and laundry to getting up and dressed in the morning, help from a senior care provider is invaluable to an aging adult with emphysema. Because they don’t have the stamina or strength to do it on their own, seniors with emphysema need in-home care for the long-term.

Getting a diagnosis of emphysema can bring about a lot of stress for both family caregivers and their elderly loved ones. However, with a strong support team of doctors, respiratory therapists, senior care providers and family members, the aging adult can start effective treatments as soon as possible and establish a lifestyle that avoids flare-ups and maximizes opportunity.

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN CONCORD, NC, PLEASE CALL THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS HOME CARE. WE SERVE CLIENTS IN MOORESVILLE, STATESVILLE, DAVIDSON, CORNELIUS, HUNTERSVILLE, DENVER, CONCORD, KANNAPOLIS, AND THE CHARLOTTE METRO AREA. CALL TODAY: (704) 909-7958