Emphysema is a progressive disease that typically takes years to develop and is usually the result of long-term exposure to smoke and other toxins. The lungs start to lose elasticity and become less effective at exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen. While there’s no cure for emphysema, there are steps your senior loved one can take to reduce the risk of developing this debilitating condition or causing further damage to the lungs.
1. Stop Smoking & Avoid Environmental Irritants
Smoking is the primary cause of emphysema. If necessary, encourage your loved one to talk to the doctor about smoking cessation therapies. Help your loved one avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Even if a family member smokes outside the house, the residual smoke on his or her hair and clothes can exacerbate emphysema symptoms. Your loved one should also avoid aerosol sprays, plug-in air fresheners, household cleaners, and other substances that can produce fumes.
2. Conserve Energy
The fatigue from normal daily tasks can make it difficult for a senior with emphysema to breathe effectively. Small changes in routines and the way a home is organized can help your loved one reduce the number of steps he or she has to take and allow him or her to conserve energy. For example, rearrange kitchen drawers and cabinets so items are as close as possible to where they’ll be used, and use a small utility cart with wheels when cleaning the house to make it easier to transport items from room to room.
Aging adults with emphysema often find it challenging to accomplish everyday tasks on their own. Tucson respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercise not only tones muscles, but it also tones the lungs. Exercises that focus on the upper body are especially beneficial for seniors with emphysema, since they use their neck and chest muscles when breathing. Walking, lifting light hand weights, and swimming are among the most beneficial exercises for older adults with emphysema.
4. Adapt Eating Habits
Emphysema causes air to become trapped in the lungs. Over time, the lungs become enlarged to the point where they push down into the abdominal cavity, which makes it difficult for the stomach to expand after a large meal. Your loved one may find it more comfortable to eat several small meals a day rather than three large ones. Look for food options that are high in protein and pack a lot of nutrients and calories into small portions.
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 senior care. 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 serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.
5. Practice Effective Breathing
Seniors with emphysema often have chaotic breathing patterns. Encourage your loved one to take uniform breaths that originate in the diaphragm. Babies naturally breathe from the diaphragm, but breathing becomes shallower as they grow older and become adults. This means many seniors aren’t utilizing their full lung capacity. To practice diaphragmatic breathing, your loved one should lie down on his or her back with a book on his or her stomach. If your loved one is breathing from the diaphragm, the book will rise and fall with each breath.
If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of elder care. Tucson 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. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (520) 276-6555 to schedule a free in-home consultation.