Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly called COPD, can be a demanding illness to manage, both for patients and for caregivers. Many people living with COPD find that everyday tasks—like going up and down stairs, cleaning, or running errands—become difficult. Treatment for COPD often involves a combination of medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, lifestyle changes and follow-up appointments. Patients and caregivers must also keep track of symptoms and learn to recognize the warning signs of a COPD exacerbation, a worsening of symptoms that requires medical treatment.
While this may all seem overwhelming, there are resources available to help patients with COPD and caregivers of patients with COPD. Below are a few places to find information and support.
American Lung Association
The website of the American Lung Association is a great starting point for learning about any form of lung disease, including COPD, with pages of information on the disease, diagnosis, treatment and life with COPD. They also offer a helpline that connects patients and caregivers with a staff of registered nurses and respiratory therapists who can answer questions on all topics related to COPD, including smoking cessation. You’ll also find a number of options for peer support, including online support groups and in-person support groups that meet locally.
This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to improving the lives of people with COPD through research, improving access to treatment and building a community of patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and researchers. Anyone looking to connect with other people whose lives have been impacted by COPD should look into the online community COPD360social. The website also offers a helpline and a number of useful education pages, covering topics such as traveling with COPD, transitioning from hospital to home and pulmonary rehabilitation. They even offer a music program, Harmonicas for Health.
Family Caregiver Alliance
The FCA is a community-based non-profit that supports caregivers who are providing long-term care for friends and family members with chronic diseases. While the website does not offer information specifically related to COPD, it does offer education about caregiving strategies and challenges, plus webinars and the Family Care Navigator, a state-by-state index of services related to long-term care.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NHLBI is an excellent resource for learning about many different health conditions, and their page on COPD offers simple, straightforward information that covers all the basics of the disease, as well as information on clinical trials.
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Even patients who have already been diagnosed with COPD can benefit from quitting smoking, since quitting has been shown to slow the progression of the disease. Smokefree.gov offers a number of resources, strategies and approaches to help people quit smoking.