When we’re younger, we often take for granted our ability to get around with ease. Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store once a week or a month-long trip across the country, there are very few physical limitations setting us back. But as we get older, tasks that used to be second nature to us now become strenuous exercise. This is further complicated by the fact that older adults are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), all of which are debilitating.
According to Healthline, COPD is most commonly diagnosed in people over 40 years of age. However, the age groups that are most affected by COPD are women between the ages of 65 and 74 and men between the ages of 75 and 84. This is when people tend to struggle the most with mobility because the effects of aging begin to mix with the later stages of the disease. But despite the struggles these patients face, it is possible to regain a significant portion of the mobility that they lost.
While every case of COPD is different, treatment is usually focused on pulmonary rehabilitation, which is essentially an exercise routine that’s focused on lung strength and education; a refined diet with an emphasis on protein and healthy fats; and finally, supplemental oxygen therapy which is designed to reduce the physical burden on the lungs and maintain blood oxygen levels which leads to improved systemic health.
If you’ve gone ahead and purchased a Caire FreeStyle Comfort, one of the lightest and most powerful portable oxygen concentrators on the market, you’re likely looking to enjoy your newfound freedom by taking a trip of some kind. Since the FreeStyle Comfort is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you’ll be able to fly anywhere in the country or worldwide with your new concentrator. In this post, we’ll go over 7 must-know tips before you travel with your Caire FreeStyle Comfort.
Speak With Your Doctor
Whether you’re taking a flight or a road trip, you should speak with your doctor before you even begin planning. Your doctor will not only provide you with advice on using your oxygen concentrator away from home but he/she will also make sure you understand all other facets of your treatment plan like your diet, pulmonary rehabilitation, and sleep schedule. Be sure to write down any questions you may have before you go in for a doctor’s visit.
Easily the biggest problem many COPD patients face when traveling is falling back or cheating on their new diet. Since your diet is inextricably linked to your lung health, making poor dietary choices can be devastating. Since most people tend to be “on the go” when they’re on vacation, they usually opt for simple snacks or fast food which are usually high in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats instead of protein and healthy fats like your COPD diet entails. This can put you at higher risk for exacerbations while you’re away from home.
Another aspect of your COPD treatment plan that might get neglected while you’re traveling is your exercise routine. It can be difficult to find the time to set aside time for important exercises that can boost your strength and improve endurance so your doctor may set you up with a special routine. On the other hand, if you’re going to be up and moving a lot anyways, your doctor may tell you not to worry about pulmonary rehab while you’re gone.
Lastly, you should consult your doctor for information about using your oxygen concentrator while away from home. He/she may have advice for you on adjusting your flow setting based on whether you’re sitting or walking. This way you can conserve battery life and experience more freedom during your trip.
Skim Through Your User Manual
There’s no doubt about it, the Caire FreeStyle Comfort is one of the easiest portable oxygen concentrators on the market to use. There are just three buttons on the user interface: two to control the flow setting up or down and one to turn the device on or off. While you’ll likely get the hang of using this concentrator almost immediately, it’s still a good idea to read the user manual in order to understand its more advanced features.
The user manual will help you get better acquainted with the various audio and visual alarms on the device. For example, there is a symbol when your battery life is getting low or if there is some type of malfunction. By learning these symbols, you won’t have to stress about them while you’re on vacation trying to enjoy yourself. Also, take some time to read through the “troubleshooting” section so that you can fix minor errors on your own while you’re away from home.
Another section of the Caire FreeStyle Comfort manual that you should pay special attention to is the one titled “Travel Information.” By reading this, you’ll learn some helpful tips for using your portable oxygen concentrator while on a flight including how to put it into airplane mode.
Pack Extra Batteries
Despite the Caire FreeStyle Comfort offering the longest battery life of any pulse dose portable oxygen concentrator on the market, it’s still a good idea to bring extra batteries with you when you travel. With an additional small 8-cell battery for the FreeStyle Comfort, you can double the battery life of your device and only add a small amount of weight. You can even upgrade to a large 16-cell battery and you’ll still be carrying less weight than most portable oxygen concentrators out there.
Another great advantage of these batteries is that they don’t take up very much space. You can easily fit several of them in your backpack or purse while still having room for other personal belongings like your keys or wallet. This is in stark contrast to oxygen tanks which take up significantly more space, not to mention the fact that they’re awkwardly shaped making it difficult to fit them in storage.
Other Accessories to Pack
Aside from extra batteries, there are a lot of other accessories out there for the Caire FreeStyle Comfort that you should consider taking on a trip. First and foremost, you need the AC charging cable. This accessory comes with every FreeStyle Comfort package and allows you to charge your device with any electrical wall outlet. If you’re traveling to another country, be sure to get an adapter to ensure you are able to charge your POC wherever you go.
Secondly, you will need a DC charging cable. This is similar to an AC charging cable but it allows you to charge your Caire FreeStyle Comfort in any car cigarette outlet. Most people don’t realize this, but you’re actually able to use your POC while it’s charging in the car. So, if you’re taking a long road trip you’ll always have a full battery. If you want to get out and stretch your legs or do some sightseeing, you’ll have peace of mind that you have a full battery to work with.
Last but certainly not least, you’re going to want to purchase and bring an external battery charger with you. Normally, you need to have a battery attached to your concentrator in order to charge it, but the external battery charger allows you to charge the battery when it’s not attached. In other words, you’ll be able to charge two batteries at the same time. This is perfect for people who are on-the-go a lot and don’t have much downtime.
For example, if you’re going back to the hotel for an hour or two, the external battery charger will let you charge your batteries much more quickly allowing you have more freedom once you leave. You can also charge two batteries overnight without having to wake up and swap out the batteries on your concentrator.
Learn About CAIREview™ Telehealth Technology
One of the most unique features of the Caire FreeStyle Comfort is its telehealth technology. Telehealth is a practice that’s progressing very quickly in this day and age. Essentially, it means health care professionals providing patients with services over long distances by taking advantage of video communication and other technologies. The Caire FreeStyle Comfort has its own built-in telehealth technology called CAIREview.
CAIREview is an advanced and cost-effective tracking solution that will help you better understand how you’re using oxygen and how you can improve your treatment. This information can also be shared remotely with your provider who can help you make changes to your routine. What’s more, you can rest assured that this is all done over a secure network that doesn’t share any personal information unrelated to your oxygen usage. To get started, you’ll simply need to install the CAIREview application and connect it wirelessly to your POC.
Decide How You Will Carry Your Device
The way you carry your oxygen device can make a huge difference when it comes to your ability to get around while you’re on vacation. For example, oxygen tanks are so heavy and bulky that the only way to carry them is with a rolling cart. This is not ideal because it can make it very difficult to get up a flight of stairs or move through crowded areas without bumping into people.
If you have a Caire FreeStyle Comfort, however, you will have many different options for how you transport it. Most people choose to use the custom carrying case that comes with the device because it can easily be swung over your shoulder and kept close to your side. The FreeStyle Comfort has an ergonomic curve design to keep it from sliding back and forth as you walk and you’ll have easy access to all the controls on the top of the device.
Another carrying option available to you is the FreeStyle Comfort backpack. With the backpack, you’ll have plenty of extra room to carry things like your keys, wallet, water bottle, or any other supplies you need for traveling. Some people find it more comfortable to carry their POC on their back because it spreads the weight between their shoulders, preventing back pain or soreness. However, it will always come down to your personal preference and what you’re trying to accomplish.
One final way you can carry your oxygen device is with a mobility aid like a wheelchair or rolling walker. Mobility aids are best for older COPD patients who are struggling to get around on their own. If you use a wheelchair, you can hang the concentrator over the back of the chair. Just be sure that there is no slack in the oxygen tubing so it doesn’t get caught on a wheel. Most walkers or “rollators” as they’re often called have a seat that can be used to rest your concentrator on as you walk.
Contact Your Airline Ahead of Time
While the FreeStyle Comfort is approved for all commercial airlines in the United States, you’ll still need to contact your airline of choice 48 hours before your flight. This is because they may have paperwork that you need to fill out about your respiratory condition or your oxygen usage before you can fly. Once you actually arrive at the airport you should also check in with the receptionist at your gate to make sure they’re aware of your oxygen usage. This is just to make sure that there isn’t any confusion or holdups before you have to get on the plane.
Another policy many airlines have is that you need to have 150% of the duration of the trip in battery life. Delays and malfunctions are not uncommon in the airline industry so they simply want to make sure you’re covered in the event that there is a delay. Make sure that you charge some extra batteries the night before you leave and have them in your carry-on bags ready to go.
Supplemental oxygen therapy is one of the most important aspects of a COPD treatment plan. As such, it’s important to be very well prepared before you travel with an oxygen concentrator. This means knowing when to use oxygen, what flow setting to use, as well as following all other aspects of your COPD treatment such as your diet, exercise routine, and sleep schedule.
Fortunately, travel is made a lot easier with a powerful pulse dose portable oxygen concentrator like the Caire FreeStyle Comfort. This POC weighs in at just 5 pounds with the single battery and only 6 pounds with the double battery, it offers up to 16 hours of battery life on a flow setting of 1, and it has a maximum oxygen output of 1,050 ml/min or a flow setting of 5. These are the best specs of any oxygen concentrator on the market, so it’s no wonder that so many people have bought one.
While the Caire FreeStyle Comfort is the best POC for the greatest number of people, we here at LPT Medical understand that everyone has different needs. If you have higher oxygen demands than what the FreeStyle Comfort is able to provide, we are here to help you find exactly what you need. We offer a wide range of continuous flow portable oxygen concentrators such as the Respironics SimplyGo or the Oxlife Independence, as while as a host of stationary oxygen concentrators including the Respironics EverFlo Q and the Inogen at Home.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us by phone or email.