Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that blocks airflow and makes it difficult to breathe. The two most common types of COPD are bronchitis and emphysema. Unfortunately, the effects of COPD are irreversible. If the severity of lung disease progresses to a point at which treatment is no longer effective and the patient’s life expectancy is subsequently limited, then hospice care is an option to alleviate the symptoms and help the patient maintain an optimal quality of life.
The End Stages of Lung Disease/COPD
The late-stage symptoms of chronic lung diseases often include shortness of breath, coughing, and difficulty swallowing. This can compromise the quality of life for the patient as the condition worsens the patient’s overall health. However, the symptoms can be managed and minimized through a strategic care plan.
How Hospice Care Helps Patients With Lung Disease/COPD
Many primary physicians recommend hospice care for patients with advanced-stage lung disease in an effort to reduce the symptoms, ensure the patient is able to function properly daily, and lengthen the patient’s life expectancy. Every hospice care plan for lung disease is personalized according to the patient’s specific needs.
However, common care treatments and techniques that are used in hospice care for patients with advanced lung disease include oxygen therapy, breathing techniques, and sleep aids. Hospice care can also help with medication management, improve energy levels, and can provide relief for family members and other caregivers.
Oxygen therapy is commonly used for patients with lung disease/COPD. Oxygen therapy, also called supplemental oxygen, is a treatment that provides additional oxygen to the lungs. This is especially recommended for patients who experience routine bouts of dyspnea (labored breathing).
One of the most common types of oxygen therapy is in the form of an oxygen mask the patient wears when they experience labored breathing. Hospice caregivers understand how to provide oxygen responsibly to improve the patient’s breathing and reduce the severity of their symptoms.
Breathing techniques can also help improve short-term and long-term breathing for hospice patients. Hospice caregivers can work with patients with advanced lung disease to teach them daily breathing exercises as well as techniques to use that help their breathing when there are breathing difficulties. Additionally, the hospice care team can discuss techniques to deal with and assist with any labored breathing that worsens due to anxiety or panic.
Most patients who have advanced lung disease are on medications that are prescribed by their primary doctor. Hospice caregivers can assist patients with advanced lung disease by ensuring they remain consistent with their medication schedule. They can also monitor the efficacy of medications and work with the patient’s doctor to ensure they have the best possible medication plan to alleviate symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Breathing difficulties can become worse depending on the ways in which the patient sleeps. Hospice caregivers can work with the patient and teach them the best sleep positions for a good night of rest each night. This can help reduce the severity of symptoms at night and during the day.
Increased Energy Level
Of course, a better night of rest leads to an increased level of energy during the day. Additionally, hospice care teams can assist with activities of daily living (known as “ADLs”) such as cooking and cleaning to reduce the level of physical exertion the patient is asked to complete each day. This can lead to increased energy as well as assist with the alleviation of symptoms.
Relief for Caregivers
An often overlooked aspect of advanced-stage lung disease is the effect it has on caregivers. Caregivers, especially close family members, take on an exhaustive burden when someone they love develops severe COPD. It is normal for caregivers to feel overwhelmed, and hospice care offers a way for them to get the rest they need in order to spend more meaningful time with their loved one rather than serving as their primary caregiver.
Higher Quality of Life Overall
The ultimate benefit (and goal) of hospice care, especially for individuals with advanced lung disease, is an improved quality of life. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and controlled by their symptoms, they can minimize the symptoms and live life as they desire with optimal energy levels and improved mental and physical health.
Hospice Care From Harbor Light Hospice Can Help Improve Quality of Life
Call Harbor Light Hospice for more information about hospice care for patients with advanced lung disease/COPD or if you have a referral from your primary physician for hospice care for you or your loved one. Our hospice care team takes genuine pride in helping to improve the quality of life of individuals with advanced lung disease.