Chances are, you know someone who takes care of a sick parent or spouse and faces the many challenges of caregiving. You may even know someone who cares for a person with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe and gets worse over time. It affects more than the person with the illness. COPD can affect the whole family.
“I watched my mother serve as the main caregiver for my father with COPD. The follow-up appointments, the coordination of his care with his care team, the supervised exercise. My mother juggled it all. She was the driving force in my Dad’s care,” said Joel Africk, president of Respiratory Health Association (RHA). “Luckily, I was able to put our kitchen table conversations in front of a dedicated team of patients, caregivers, and providers, and ‘The COPD Caregivers Toolkit’ was created. We worked to simplify some of the most complicated parts of being a COPD caregiver, and provide resources to help.”
Caregivers who feel confident in what to do provide better care for their loved ones. “The COPD Caregiver’s Toolkit” offers the information they need and provides answers to questions they commonly have.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Learn More Breathe Better® program recently partnered with the Respiratory Health Association to make the toolkit available nationally. Learn More Breathe Better works to improve the lives of the millions of people living with COPD and other lung conditions. Through its educational efforts, NHLBI reaches patients, providers, researchers, and now, caregivers.
According to Dr. Jim Kiley, director of NHLBI’s Division of Lung Diseases, “COPD is a complex disease that over time can become debilitating. That’s why early diagnosis, treatment, and disease management are so important. It can be overwhelming for many patients and their families. ‘The COPD Caregiver’s Toolkit’ is a valuable resource that will help clarify what caregivers need to know to help their loved ones.”
The toolkits’ modules contain advice on a variety of topics such as how to prepare for doctors’ appointments, navigate changes in home life, provide help after a COPD flare-up or hospital stay, and more. Medication and vaccination tracking sheets and a list of questions to ask doctors are also included.
By having all of this information readily available in this toolkit, caregivers can become more confident in their ability to help their loved one manage their COPD. They’ll also find information to help themselves, such as support groups, self-care, and emergency backup care.
Click here to read a brief message from NHLBI’s Dr. Kiley and RHA’s Joel Africk about the COPD Caregiver’s Toolkit.