It is 2020, and no matter who you are, your life was most likely impacted by the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus first exposed in late 2019 (COVID-19). This virus is the most dangerous for humans when it infects your respiratory system, so this is obviously frightening for people with COPD and other underlying health conditions and immunodeficiencies.
There is much more that is unknown about the virus than there is any information that is definitive: How fast it spreads, how easily transmittable it is, and so much more will be under scientific scrutiny for months even years to come.
COVID-19 and COPD recommendations
So, this means that if you have COPD or any respiratory aliment or immunodeficiency it is recommended by medical professionals all over the world, that you especially need to take care to adhere to guidelines and other health related advice.
This means limiting your travel or vacation plans, maintaining social distancing recommendations of 6 feet apart, among other requirements.
You might have had plans this summer or fall to visit the grandkids, or they were coming to visit you, maybe you were embarking on an adventure, or a relaxing getaway, or maybe you had no plans at all, but are finding the reality of a global pandemic lifestyle unfulfilling.
Whether you have stage one or stage four of COPD there are ways you can maintain a positive livelihood without being exposed to COVID-19. Here are the best ways to enjoy this year safely in the midst of a global pandemic if you are immunocompromised or suffer from a respiratory illness such as COPD.
Simplify your life
There is no better time than now to simplify your life. This is often called minimalism, but to make things more simple can sometimes be more complicated than you think. The benefits of simplifying your life are substantial especially at a time of pandemic when our minds are filled with anxieties and uncertainty.
Minimalism and simple living can offer anyone, especially seniors and people living with COPD, many benefits. For example, minimalism can help seniors have a much easier life physically.
With all of your things looked through and organized, you will decrease the annoyance of misplacing something. And with less things, you won’t have to deal with moving things around as much, or moving around and clean as often. Overall, with less to physically and mentally deal with, comes less stress and anxiety.
By reducing the clutter in your home, yard, and work space, you subsequently make room in your mind for peace and mindfulness, something that might have gotten lost since the global pandemic has shifted reality.
It can be difficult to get rid of older things that have sentimental value to you, so start by cleaning out a shed or garage where the items have less emotional attachments.
You will find a powerful feeling of control and liberation in this stage and will be able to make more decisions about getting rid of things closer to you.
Hold yourself accountable for getting rid of things that do not serve you, for example: donate clothing you don't wear, donate plates and bowls that are taking over your kitchen cabinets, give away books you’ve read and don't want to read again. The act of giving to others through donations or gifts is very fulfilling in itself, so this is a bonus.
In order to avoid going to donation centers, ask a less vulnerable family member or friend if they would help you by picking up boxes of stuff from your home for them to bring to donation centers for you.
Start a garden or doing daily yard work
While at first thought, this sounds exhausting, gardening and 10 minutes of yard work each day can be very exciting and addicting. Being outside and getting physical activity everyday is one of the best treatment options if you have COPD, and starting a garden is one way of doing that.
Gardening is a physical challenge, relieves stress, and improves dexterity, and aspects that will encourage healthier lung functions.
If you do not have a yard or a near by community garden to plant anything, you can buy a plant and leave it on the stoop of your house. Visit your plant everyday in the sunshine and watch it grow!
Yard work can take up a lot of time and give you a fulfilling mindset at the end of each day. You don't have to do a lot at first, but once you start picking weeds one day, you’ll begin to enjoy cleaning the yard and finding creative ideas for an outdoor sanctuary right in your backyard.
Find a new hobby you can do online
There are a lot of indoor activities that can keep you occupied and busy this summer and beyond. And there are a lot of activities you probably don’t know that you enjoy yet.
One way to try a lot of different hobbies is to join a club, and because of COVID-19 rather that gathering in a large group for a weekly meeting, you can do this online.
Right now there are a lot of resources where you can join a book club online, or spend time virtually connecting to people with similar interests, either through video chat or social media.
If you have a favorite hobby already, you can try to expand on that by dedicating more time to that specific activity, and find a way to get involved with others who enjoy that hobby virtually.
If it brings you joy, prioritize the time you spend doing those things.
If you feel you are struggling alone with COPD, try joining a FaceBook group or a supportive online forums where individuals share their stories and resources about their COPD.
Go hiking or walking
Walking is a safe and effective form of exercise for people living with COPD, and there are a number of reasons walking and hiking relive COPD symptoms.
Walking and hiking can help improve your COPD:
- Low impact activity that will improve your body's ability to use oxygen
- Build endurance
- Strengthen muscles
- Enhance an overall sense of well-being
- Being more self-sufficient
- Tolerate exercise better
There are even more benefits of walking for a person with COPD than whats listed above.
While you should not travel too far away from home, there might be a great walking or hiking trail near you. Try to avoid walking on busy trails by going during the week day rather than the weekends.
Hiking gets you into the outdoors and under the sun, but it is important that you do so safely. Be sure to continue wearing a mask if people are present on the trails. If the parking lot is extremely crowded, come back another day.
If you are curious how to find the best trails near you, be sure to do some research and learn more about how you could go walking and hiking even with COPD or other complicated health issues can enjoy hiking and walking.
Invest in a oxygen concentrator
Even though we are expected to “stay in place” there is no better time to become more mobile while doing so.
Receiving oxygen treatment for conditions such as COPD doesn't have to mean being tethered to a bulky canister of compressed oxygen, and you should not be subject to limited mobility and lack of independence.
You do not have to subject yourself to the unnecessary risks of carrying around an atmosphere of pure oxygen. There are safer and more transportable alternatives available today.
You do not have to carry a heavy tank around, instead portable oxygen concentrator extracts and concentrates pure oxygen and give you therapeutic doses of purified oxygen from the air around you.
Being at home unable to move around easily due to a rolling oxygen cart can be frustrating and upsetting, especially when you have no outlet to go out and do something, go on vacation, or look forward to family members and friends visiting you.
The uncertainty of these times leaves people hesitate to make larger purchases, such as a portable oxygen concentrator. However, when it comes to the air you breathe and the peace of mind you gain by being more physically active with less shortness of breath is priceless.
These long-term investments lead to long-term savings both monetarily and with regard to your livelihood.
You have a plethora of choices to make when it comes to buying an oxygen concentrator. One thing you need to know is there are two ways that concentrators deliver nearly pure oxygen from the air around you and into your lungs:
1. Pulse flow
Pulse flow or pulse dos oxygen concentrator sensors measure your breathing rate and automatically deliver a short bursts of oxygen as needed. This is a more popular choice for those with higher-functioning lungs like people in stages 1, 2, or sometimes 3 of COPD or those seeking an oxygen boost for exercise or at higher altitudes.
2. Continuous flow
Continuous flow oxygen concentrator maintains a steady supply of oxygen to you while it is being produced. This model will generally be heavier with more power and lower battery life. This option is best for you if you have stage 3 or 4 COPD and very limited lung capacity or higher oxygen saturation requirements for your body.
Be sure that you purchase your oxygen concentrator from an authorized dealer that carries devices from well-established manufacturers. By working with an authorized dealer you can be sure that your machine will be serviced and that the warranty is valid.
Medical and healthcare professionals do not advise purchasing portable oxygen concentrators from questionable sources such as amazon or online auction websites because the warranties and support may be fraudulent and the device may not be exactly what is represented online.
Planning ahead has been recognized as a key to success, so even under the impending uncertainties brought on by COVID-19, you should plan your goals through hard work and strategic thinking.
This can mean:
- Planning to a regular walking routine for the next week
- Planning to call your loved ones once a day for the next month
- Planning a budget to purchase a portable oxygen concentrator within the next year
- Planning a diet for healthier eating habits over the next week
- Planning goals to quit smoking
COPD can cause a lot productivity challenges, due to shortness of breath and common depressive moods and anxiety. Nevertheless it is these times of isolation, where planning is more important than ever.
You can combat depressive moods and especially anxiety, by planning beneficial goals that will help you to attain a higher quality of life. And there is no excuse not to give this a try while you have so much extra time on your hands.
Foster new and old social connections
Social interaction is vital for everyone, and if you have COPD connecting with others is essential.
If you are not used to being all alone and without other people, and are eager to to reach out to find ways to connect with others, it is important to do so safely.
When exposing yourself to other people you should stay the recommended 6 feet apart and everyone should be wearing a mask. But this does not mean that you can’t have fun.
Take a trip with friends and family to the local beach, river bed, or lake, bringing a large towel or blanket to establish physical boundaries and make sure others are staying a safe distance away from you.
Try bringing a king sized bed spread and your spot can be right in the middle of it, creating a perfect distance away while still socializing.
You and your neighbors can have small communal cookouts where families bring their grills to their respective front yard to BBQ and eat together.
If you want to be more creative, have a neighborhood talent show where each house takes turns putting on a show, either playing music, dancing, or magic outside for everyone to watch.
In order to have a successful social-distancing get-together you must do your best to be innovative. And if you have COPD and are rightfully concerned about COVID-19 you should become a leader in your community to help people socialize safely amid the ongoing pandemic.
Taking each of these steps in your own personal way will help you to enjoy your summer to the fullest, despite on-going risks associated with COVID-19.
Simplifying your life will give you the space you need to try new things. And by taking pleasure in the simple things, you will appreciate your new found adoration for gardening, or yard work.
You can also start exploring ways to use the computer to start new hobbies, or join an online club that you've always wanted to try but could never find the time or motivation to get out of the house and do so.
If you find yourself stuck inside unwilling or unable to move around without shortness of breath, this is the best time to purchase a portable oxygen concentrator that will give you the freedom and independence you need to get moving around your house and outside safely.
Once you are ready to explore more with a lightweight oxygen concentrator that you can carry around, you can attempt taking a short hike or going for a walk. If this is within the capabilities of your lungs, be sure you go to less busy hiking trails and try to go on weekdays when trails are less busy.
Remain social by getting "together" with you family and neighbors and try putting on a social gathering where everyone stays in their respective yards for a BBQ or talent show.
Do you best to stay motivated by planning ahead and setting goals for yourself in all aspects of you life. By taking all of these measures in 2020, amidst a global pandemic while also managing a chronic lung disease, will lead you to a more fulfilling and satisfying life.