November is National COPD Month

The Fall is a good time to re-stock your referral network with disease brochures. Many seniors especially those with compromised lung health will find themselves in your referring physicians’ waiting rooms in the coming winter months. Educate patients about the benefits of choosing Home Health as a care partner for maladies such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The frequency of evaluation and monitoring that home health can provide promotes a higher degree of symptom management and recovery.

COPD is a general term for several progressive lung diseases that include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD patients experience damage to their bronchial sacs from exposure to airborne irritants like tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, and pollution. The damage is cumulative and cannot be reversed, but symptoms can be managed and disease progression can be slowed.

Recognizing COPD can be challenging because the symptoms are common to other conditions and often mistaken for lingering respiratory infections. Some seniors, especially smokers, rationalize that coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath are just part of getting older. Shortness of breath should never be ignored and could indicate a number of serious conditions pertaining to the heart or lungs. Chronic shortness of breath is a very good indication of COPD.

Older adults should be vigilant about their lung health, especially those who smoke or have a family history of lung disease. They should ask for a  spirometry test at their annual wellness exam and seek medical attention for any lingering COPD symptoms.

Common symptoms of COPD include:

  • Persistent shortness of breath

  • Frequent coughing (with and without mucus)

  • Wheezing

  • Chest tightness

  • Recurring respiratory infections

  • Intolerance to exercise

Here are some ideas to raise lung health awareness in your community:

Volunteer to lead a COPD support group in your community. Introducing your services to your neighbors will allow them to better understand the options available through all types of home care agencies.

Distribute informative brochures to your local senior centers that list the symptoms, causes and risk factors for COPD, as well as the pulmonary rehabilitation services your agency provides.

Provide your referral network with informative material on effective smoking cessation strategies. Be sure to include your agency’s many COPD-related home health services.

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