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Caring for Individuals with COPD

By John W. Walsh

(Page 4 of 5)  


Depression is common in individuals with COPD. In fact, about 40 percent are affected by severe depressive symptoms or clinical depression, according to studies. Monitoring the individualís emotional state is an important part of the job. By the same token, caregivers should be aware of their own emotional states. At some point, those with COPD begin to lose the ability to be part of everyday activities, such as playing games with the grandchildren, eating a large meal or even going for a walk. Depression in the caregiver can be as much a part of life as it can be for the individual with COPD.


Caregivers and individuals with COPD must always have a well thought-out plan before traveling, even for a drive across town, because of the demands of supplemental oxygen. For airplane flights, make sure you:

  • Have a copy of the oxygen prescription, as well as the name and phone number of the doctor, respiratory therapist and oxygen supplier

  • Have enough medication for the journey

  • Know how to operate the portable oxygen system and how long the oxygen will last

  • Have oxygen refills available

  • Know where the nearest hospitals are located  

Using oxygen doesn't mean that individuals with COPD can't travel, but it does mean you should have a back-up plan for potential delays or detours, or in case of malfunction in the oxygen system.  


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