Emphysema is a disease in which the small air sacs in the lungs are destroyed after long-term exposure to environmental toxins or cigarette smoke. The air sacs, called alveoli, are unable to expand to take in oxygen and cannot shrink to force out carbon dioxide, which can make breathing difficult and interfere with a senior’s ability to perform daily activities. The disease is largely preventable by avoiding smoking. However, the lung damage caused by emphysema cannot be reversed. Here are a few strategies to help seniors with emphysema mitigate the symptoms of the condition.
Exercise the Lungs
Seniors with emphysema should breathe from the diaphragm to make the most of their lung capacity. Strengthening the abdominal muscles makes it easier to exhale effectively, which makes room for more oxygen when inhaling. Most drugstores sell small devices designed to exercise the airways. These devices are plastic mouthpieces that create resistance as people blow into them. A ring adjusts the size of the opening. As your senior loved one gets used to one setting, he or she can decrease the size of the opening, increasing the resistance.
Maintain an Ideal Body Weight
Fatigue and difficulty breathing after even minimal exertion can cause your loved one to become sedentary and gain weight, which can increase the amount of energy required to perform daily activities and exacerbate symptoms of emphysema. Low-impact physical activities like walking and swimming can eliminate excess body weight as well as strengthen the lungs.
A senior with emphysema may find it challenging to accomplish daily tasks. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Sacramento live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.
Focus on Nutrition
If your loved one is underweight because he or she is using too much energy just to breathe, focus on adding calories to his or her diet. The best options are usually high-protein, nutrient-dense foods. Encourage your loved one to eat six small meals a day rather than three large meals, since the enlarged lungs can make it difficult for the stomach to expand after eating.
Seniors with emphysema or other medical conditions often require help to age in place safely and comfortably. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable elderly home care. Sacramento, California, families trust Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.
Even though emphysema is a physical condition, psychological factors can worsen the symptoms. Being in a constant state of panic or worry about the disease can trigger a physiological response that increases the heart and respiration rates and increases the body’s demand for oxygen. Seeing a counselor or joining a support group for people living with emphysema can provide emotional support and alleviate concerns about this chronic disease.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Encourage your loved one to focus on breathing and using his or her energy more efficiently. He or she can do this by:
- Organizing tasks with as few steps as possible (for instance, rearranging the kitchen so utensils are located near where they will be used)
- Using a utility cart to transport items from room to room when cleaning the house
- Exhaling through pursed lips when lifting or climbing stairs and inhaling when resting
If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of in-home care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. For reliable in-home care services, contact us at (916) 706-0169 today.