18 November is World COPD day and in line with this year’s theme “Living Well with COPD – Everybody, Everywhere”, we want to support COPD patients and their carers with some tips on how to get through the autumn and winter season.
For many people with COPD this is a dreaded time, because even a harmless respiratory tract infection can trigger acute exacerbations from which patients may not fully recover. This year, many COPD patients may be even more worried as they are considered at risk for a severe course of disease during the current corona virus pandemic.
In order to protect themselves from the risk of infection, COPD patients decide to lead a solitary life during the cold season. They avoid seeing their family and friends and do not leave their houses as this may increase the risk of infection. Living alone socially distanced you quickly feel isolated. Many experts see this as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer or dementia and depression.
Here are some tips to help you cope better with the challenges of the cold season as a COPD patient:
- Being on your own does not mean you have to be lonely! Thanks to modern communication technology you can stay in touch with your loved ones by using the different options for video calls that are now available.
- Even when the weather gets inclement, spend time outside. How about a walk in the park? Exercise and fresh air can help you strengthen your immune system and lift your spirits.
- Talking to people with the same diagnosis, sharing experiences and feeling understood can decrease your sense of isolation. Many patients share your situation and your fears. Some patient organisations offer support groups by telephone or as an online group to share experiences.
- Physical activity and exercise on a regular basis have positive effects on mood and anxiety. As a COPD patient, try to stay active and include small exercises and activities into your daily routine. Many pulmonary rehabilitation programmes or lung sports groups now offer an online exercise programme which you can do from home.
- Structuring the day or week in advance can keep you motivated: Dedicated slots for getting up in the morning, work and meal times as well as leisure activities such as reading, watching TV, practising yoga or relaxation exercises help to keep track of time and keep you active.
- And last but not least: Thinking positive and drawing something positive even from extreme situations is the key. You could for example use the time for things you have always wanted to do: Cleaning out the closet, trying out new recipes, learning a new language…
- If you don’t have COPD but know someone who has, please remember that this time of the year is particularly difficult. A telephone or video chat or a bunch of flowers can go a long way in lighting up a gloomy day for a COPD patient.
If you would like to know more about how to develop support programmes for COPD patients, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.