If COPD is affecting what you are able to do during your daily life, for example, if breathlessness is making it difficult for you to get around or you’re fatigued and find standing for long periods difficult, there are products known as “daily living aids” which can help make everyday tasks easier.
At NRS Healthcare, we supply daily living aids that are designed to help people with healthcare conditions or disabilities to continue to live independently and help with tasks they are finding difficult. Many people do not realise that such equipment exists, or they believe using it is ‘giving in’ to their condition. We believe that, just as you would take medication to help relieve symptoms, you can also use daily living equipment to achieve the same thing, meaning your condition will not determine what you can and cannot do.
Below, we list a selection of products that provide support with a variety of daily living activities that some people with COPD may find difficult. Not everybody will need to use daily living aids, but for some people, they can help them remain independent by making life easier.
• Mobility aids – if you are experiencing breathlessness or fatigue, you may need equipment that will help you get around at your own pace, which may make moving around less strenuous
o 4 wheeled rollator with a seat – ideal for walking and resting indoors or outdoors
o Transit wheelchair – ideal for short distances and occasional use
o Attendant controlled wheelchair – ideal for more frequent or longer periods of use, this is pushed by a companion when you need to rest
o Ramp – ideal for wheelchair or rollator users who need to avoid steps
• Toileting aids – if the toilet is too far away for you to get to, it may help to have a commode or portable toilet, which you can position in the bedroom or lounge, wherever is convenient
o Traditional commode – looks like a lounge chair for discrete toileting
o Folding commode – ideal for taking on trips or storing away easily
o Porta Potti – a portable flushing toilet
• Bathing aids – getting in and out of the bath can be difficult and strenuous for some people but these aids may provide assistance
o Bath lift
– lowers you down into a bath and lifts you back up again when you have finished
• Shower aids – some people may find they are unable to stand for long enough to enjoy their shower
o Shower chair – a comfortable seat in the shower
• Bed and chair aids – some people find that getting in and out of a bed or chair is difficult if they are breathless or fatigued
o Bed rail – helps you pull yourself up from lying to sitting
o Furniture raisers – makes beds and chairs higher, so less bending is required to sit or lie down
o Rise and recline chair – manoeuvres down to a relaxed sitting or lying position, then lifts you back up again for easier standing
o Electrically operated bed – allows you to adjust your position in bed with a remote control
• Aids for household chores – you may find that your symptoms affect your ability to do things around the home
o Household trolley – useful if you need to transport items around the home but find it difficult to carry them
o Perching stool – can be used in the shower or kitchen to help wash or do chores whilst resting rather than standing up
• Exercise aids – exercise can help your lungs work more effectively
o Pedal exerciser – enables you to do seated, aerobic exercise
o Resistance band – helps strengthen and tone muscle and build strength
o Dumbbells – builds and tones muscles to help you get stronger
If you are unsure what products may help you or someone you know, NRS Healthcare has a team of occupational therapist product advisors who can advise you. Contact them on 0345 121 8111 or email [email protected]
Diet for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Eating a healthy, varied and balanced diet is really important, especially if you have a chronic, long-term health condition such as COPD. A healthy COPD diet will help you fight off infections and keep the lungs, heart and the rest of the body working well. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important to ensure that your body, in particular your heart and lungs, is not put under too much strain, which may make symptoms worse.
Drinking at least 8 cups of fluid each day is important too and water is the best source of fluid, but all non-alcoholic drinks count towards this amount.
Some people report that their breathlessness affects their ability to eat, and enjoyment of eating. Some people may feel uncomfortable after eating because their breathing difficulties mean they swallow air when they eat. There are lots of tips on how to solve these issues on the British Lung Foundation website, where they discuss lots of aspects of eating well with a lung condition and the Eatwell Guide provides a graphical explanation of what constitutes a healthy diet.
Exercise for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
If you have received a diagnosis of COPD, you are likely to be advised to exercise and you may be referred to a pulmonary rehabilitation course. This is an exercise and education programme for people with COPD or similar conditions, through which you undertake fitness classes and learn how to look after your health. It is usually run by a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists. Many people report that pulmonary rehabilitation has helped them manage their condition better and encouraged them to undertake regular exercise.
You should aim to do 30 minutes of exercise each day with the aim of getting your heart pumping and making your muscles stronger. A physiotherapist may be able to devise a programme of exercise that is suitable for you, if you are concerned about exercise making your symptoms worse.
In the long run, exercise may help you manage your symptoms better, as well as making your lungs work better and making you feel emotionally and mentally well.
The NHS provides more advice about how to get fit for free, and the British Lung Foundation gives a wealth of information about pulmonary rehabilitation and keeping active with a lung condition.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and employment
Many people with COPD are able to work, but some people do find that their symptoms mean they have to reduce their working hours, change jobs, or leave work altogether. This can be a difficult decision to make. The British Lung Foundation provides lots of advice if you find yourself unable to work or if you are interested in understanding what financial support is available to you if you have COPD.