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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Living with COPD

10/09/2008

Question:

Aside from quitting smoking, (I did 5 years ago) what else can one do to help living with this debilating codition. Special diets, exercises ??I am 78 years old.

Answer:

One of the most important components in COPD management is pulmonary rehabilitation.  Pulmonary rehab is an outpatient program that helps the person with COPD reach their highest level of function, learn to control their symptoms, and learn all the aspects of managing their COPD.  Pulmonary rehabilitation is offered at many hospitals, usually in the same location where cardiac rehabilitation is offered.  A referral from your physician is needed for pulmonary rehabilitation--please speak to him/her to make the necessary referrals, etc. 

Pulmonary rehabilitation includes exercise, education about the disease, medications and self-management, nutritional instruction, and counseling (when indicated).  Most programs are set up that you will attend 2-3 times per week with each session lasting about 2 hours. The program usually lasts for 6-8 weeks.  Many patients continue with maintenance programs after their formal program. 

Just recently, Medicare rules have changed that provide coverage for pulmonary rehabilitation.  You are never too old for pulmonary rehabilitation.  I've had folks as old as their late 80s enter pulmonary rehabilitation and experience great strides in their activity tolerance and endurance.  Patients find that learning and exercising with folks like themselves makes the program very enjoyable.  

In my opinion, pulmonary rehabilitation is as important in the management of COPD as medications and other self-care activities.  I wish you the best with enrolling in a program!

For more information:

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Response by:

Gerene S Bauldoff, RN, PhD, FCCP, FAACVPR, FAAN Gerene S Bauldoff, RN, PhD, FCCP, FAACVPR, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University