When COPD gets worse, that can mean that your elderly family member has to face the reality of this progressive lung disease yet one more time. Testing at her doctor’s office can help your senior to see when her condition is worsening, but there are other signs, too.
Existing Symptoms Are Worse than Before
Your senior’s COPD symptoms are gradually going to worsen. COPD is a progressive disease that doesn’t really get better as time goes on. As her COPD worsens, so too do her symptoms. She might experience periods of time where the symptoms get really bad and then improve slightly. This isn’t a sign that she’s getting “better,” but it can be a sign that she may need to adjust her medications to accommodate her worsening symptoms.
She Might Be Trying to Hide Symptoms
Some people with COPD are self-conscious about having trouble breathing. Your elderly family member may feel uncomfortable admitting just how difficult it is for her to breathe and to do the things that she used to do in the past, too. That might cause her to try to hide the fact that her symptoms are worsening. She won’t be able to hide worsening breathing on tests at her doctor’s office, however.
She’s Having More Trouble with Daily Activities
Sometimes it’s not obvious to your senior that her COPD is getting worse. She may gradually be having more trouble with daily tasks, which can be disheartening when she realizes what’s happening. She may find that she’s winded more often or that she has trouble sticking to the same routines that she’s followed for years. She may need more assistance than she’s used to needing, which can be a little scary for her.
She’s Experiencing Depression or Anxiety
People with COPD are at a much greater risk of developing trouble with anxiety or depression. The most obvious reason for this is that it’s scary to literally not be able to breathe. But there are more subtle reasons, too. COPD can make your senior feel as if she’s not able to do the things that she loves to do, which can be damaging to her sense of independence. If her depression or anxiety is getting worse in general, she may also be experiencing a slight worsening of her COPD symptoms.
One of the things you can do for your elderly family member if she has COPD is to make sure she’s got lots of ways to hang onto the energy she’s got. Having elder care providers handling routine household tasks allows her to spend her energy wisely, for instance.