You’ve reached us outside of our opening hours. Book a free telephone consultation and one of our care planning experts will give you a call whenever is convenient for you.
COPD Care: What Causes COPD in the Elderly?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a condition that causes inflammation to the lungs and airways, making it difficult to breathe. The causes of COPD is usually due to exposure to harmful substances, such as cigarette smoke. Maintaining the condition through understanding the signs and symptons can help those living with the disease lead fulfilling lives.
What is COPD?
COPD is an umbrella term referring to several different conditions that cause damage to the lungs. Two of the most prominent conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is where the alveoli (small air sacs) within the lungs are damaged, while chronic bronchitis is when the airways experience long term inflammation. Symptoms of COPD tend to emerge once a person reaches their 40s or 50s. In older people, there may be a need for elderly care to help with managing the conditon.
The different conditions that fall under the umbrella of COPD have similar symptoms. Frequent breathlessness, coughing and wheezing are common symptoms, and the cough will often be chesty and produce significant phlegm. In the long-term, COPD can also increase the risk of developing other conditions such as lung cancer or heart disease.
Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Figures show as many as nine cases in every ten are due to smoking because of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. Smoking pipes or cigars and passive smoking can also be significant factors. Stopping smoking is one of the best ways to slow the process of COPD.
A common cause for non-smokers who develop COPD is occupational exposure to harmful chemicals. If your loved one has worked in an environment with dust or fumes from cadmium, silica, coal, isocyanates or even grain or flour, they are at increased risk of COPD. High-risk occupations include agriculture, brick-making, mining and construction.
Another factor that influences the development of COPD is air pollution, both inside and outside the home. In a poorly ventilated house, the burning of fuels such as coal and wood can pollute the air inside and cause damage to the lungs.
There is also a genetic component to the development of COPD. One of the substances that protects your lungs is called alpha-1-antitrypsin. The genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is found in about 1 in 100 cases of COPD.
The impact of these causes can be high in someone who already has a condition affecting their lungs. For example, those who experienced childhood asthma may be at an increased risk of COPD.
Colin and Dulcie’s story
Dulcie is 102-years-old and lives with her son Colin, his wife Mary, and her Carer Sarah. She has dementia and has had full-time live-in care for over two years.
We talk to the family about the challenges of finding the right care solution for
a fiercely independent woman – and how the positive benefits of live-in care with Sarah has transformed all of their lives.
Treatment and Living with COPD
There is no cure for COPD. It is possible, however, to manage the condition by treating the symptoms. Tablets and inhalers are available to help ease breathing. Another treatment option is pulmonary rehabilitation programmes; these include everything from education to exercise. In a small number of severe cases, a lung transplant may be necessary.
If your loved one or relative is living with COPD, they should receive their annual flu jab, as they are considered a higher risk category. The one-off pneumococcal vaccine is also important. General lifestyle changes such as exercise and healthy eating are highly important too.
Extra consideration should be taken if your loved one is planning a holiday as COPD can be aggravated by different climates and may also affect their ability to fly. Should your loved one be limited to the time they can spend outside their home, it might be handy having a carer who can provide 24-hour care to help prevent feelings of isolation.
Some steps can be taken to reduce the chances of developing COPD. Most of the causes of COPD are primarily external. If your loved one does not smoke, avoids polluted areas, and does not have any genetic health implications, their lungs have a higher chance of being protected.
If COPD continues to progress, more support may be needed, and you may need to look for private care for your loved one. Live-in care offers friendly and comprehensive support and may be beneficial for your elderly relative living with COPD.
Call us for expert live-in care advice
If you feel your loved one requires COPD care, it’s important to know the causes of their condition to help provide support and better manage their symptoms.
COPD Care: Is There a Cure for COPD in the Elderly?
Understanding what COPD care options are available can help ease symptoms and improve a loved one’s quality of life. Here we discuss various treatment methods.
COPD Care: How do I Care for a Loved One with COPD?
Providing correct COPD care is essential to help manage and ease symptoms, and to know what steps you can take to ensure your loved one is living comfortably.
Coronary Care: What Causes Coronary Heart Disease in the Elderly?
Knowing the causes of heart disease and providing a high level of coronary care is vital to ensure your loved one or relative can easily manage their condition.
Vision Loss Care: What Causes Vision Loss in the Elderly?
It is important to understand the causes of poor eyesight in the elderly and have any necessary vision loss care plans in place to prevent further damage.
Multiple Sclerosis Care: What Causes Multiple Sclerosis in the Elderly?
While the causes of MS are still unknown, with a personalised multiple sclerosis care plan you can help ensure your loved one’s symptoms are carefully managed.