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Caring for Individuals with COPD

By John W. Walsh

(Page 5 of 5)  

Taking Care of the Caregiver

“The overwhelming emotion that many caregivers feel in their role is guilt,” said Anzalone. “You always feel like you’re not doing enough, but it’s important to create balance between caring for the COPDer and caring for yourself.”
Toward that end, caregivers should:

  • Take breaks

  • Get assistance from others as much as possible

  • Exercise and eat a balanced diet

  • Connect with other caregivers who have experience with COPD – and understand its special challenges

For caregivers, putting themselves first isn’t always easy. To understand why optimizing your own well-being is so critical for helping others, consider the analogy of an oxygen mask on an airplane: You have to put your own mask on first before you can begin to help others. 


John W. Walsh, who was diagnosed with Alpha-1-related genetic COPD in 1989, is the Co-Founder and President of the COPD Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing and supporting programs which improve the quality of life through research, education, early diagnosis and enhanced therapy for persons whose lives are impacted by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He is also the Co-Founder of the Alpha-1 Foundation (a research organization) and AlphaNet, Inc. (a unique, not-for-profit disease management services company run by and for patients). He can be reached at


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