November is National COPD Month. COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the name for a group of diseases that lead to breathing-related problems and airflow blockage. COPD can include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and occasionally asthma.

How Does COPD Affect Your Senior?

When someone has COPD, they are not able to get as much airflow through their lungs as needed. This can be because of damage or destruction of the walls of the lungs, the air sacs in the lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink as needed, or the airways are clogged with mucus. All of these can cause the person to suffer repeated bouts of coughing, an inability to catch their breath, and wheezing. In turn, their energy and stamina are greatly reduced, sometimes making everyday activities nearly impossible to perform.

The #1 Way to Reduce Their Risk of COPD

If your loved one is a smoker, one of the best things you and his elder care provider can do to help him reduce his risk of getting COPD is to continue to encourage him to stop smoking. A lifetime habit of smoking can be extremely difficult to turn away from, but people who have a supportive network, such as family members and other elder care providers, often are more successful than those who don’t have a support system, or worse, have people who actively try to sabotage their desire to quit their tobacco habit.

How Can Your Senior Quit?

While some talk about quitting cold turkey (simply throwing away all of the tobacco one day and never having any again), most people succeed best with a combination of therapy and medication. There are medications that can help your loved one gradually break away from the addiction to nicotine by providing a milder effect, lessening each through time so that eventually the need for the product is diminished. There are also medications that can make your loved one feel less of the pleasure associated with nicotine.

While medications can help the body physically recover from nicotine addiction and reduce your loved one’s risk of developing COPD or other tobacco-related diseases, the truth is there are a lot of social and mental reasons people smoke and those also need to be addressed to help someone quit smoking. That is why a combination of counseling and medication is often the most successful way to quit smoking.

Your loved one may be comfortable using a trusted family member or an elder care provider as his “person” to help him through the mental obstacles. Many find that a professional counselor is the best way to help them manage the cessation process. Discovering what lead to the habit and finding new coping strategies is important, especially when the times get tough.

If your loved one wants to do his best to avoid developing COPD, quitting smoking is his best course of action. Even if he tries and fails, continue to encourage him to keep trying until he succeeds. Being smoke-free allows him to breathe easier and enjoy the world around him.


If you or an aging loved one is considering elder care in Eagan, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.