If you have COPD it is important to take care of your body and your lungs, people do this by quitting smoking, exercising whenever possible, taking medication, and adhering to a strict treatment plan. Beyond these measures, it is important to also pay mind to your mental health, in doing so people with COPD become more motivated and cultivate a positive mind set.
When people's COPD symptoms begin to worsen is when their mental health also deteriorates and subsequently influences people to pay less attention to their COPD treatment thereby negatively effecting their health and well being. This is whats known as a negative feedback loop, which is a reaction that causes a decrease in function. So, creating a healthy environment to live in, by keeping your home clean and irritate free, is so crucial for these patients in order to find "homeostasis" which is essentially a state of normalcy.
In this article we are going to discuss how you can create a healthy living space mentally while living with COPD, but we are also going to give you ways to make your physical living space inside your home more COPD friendly.
Creating a healthy living space inside your mind
We wrote an entire article about the mental health of COPD patients and how this disease can influence depressive and anxious feelings, you can read that article by clicking here.
Now we are going to go over a few ways you can cultivate a more positive mindset while living with COPD, with a following section about living in a healthy environment physically with COPD.
Connection is an important part of dealing with COPD and the mental stress and confusion that often comes with the territory. While it is not something your doctor would prescribe, connecting with others is something you doctor should or likely has already recommended. It is also important to maintain a healthy relationship with the people who were in your life before you were diagnosed. It can be challenging to rely on the people in your everyday life more than you had before, so finding a sense of independence is critical here.
In this section we are going to talk about connecting with new people, fostering relationships with your caregivers, and finding your own independence in order to maintain these healthy relationships with others.
One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to connect with other people who have COPD is to enroll in pulmonary rehabilitation. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a program in your area. For example if you live in Florida in the Boca Raton area you are assured quality care at their South Miami Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation program. They have licensed, certified respiratory and physical therapists trained and certified by the National Board of Respiratory Care.
In a pulmonary rehab course, you will work closely with a team of professionals including:
and sometimes other clinical experts as needed
With the help of all of these experts, you will learn about multiple facets of your life. You will learn about your medical condition, how to exercise properly and within your capabilities, respiratory advice and management, managing eating habits and mental stress, all while connecting with others who are suffering from COPD as well.
While all of these aspects of pulmonary rehab are important, but the social component is so valuable for your mental state of mind. Seeing and hearing other people’s hardships throughout their diagnosis can help you feel less “alone”. Feeling alone is one of the main reasons people with COPD struggle to stay positive, thereby neglecting their treatment regimen and their mental health.
So cultivating relationships with people in your pulmonary rehab program who have similar medical conditions, is a great way to connect and feel less alone.
The other way you can create new relationships within a community that you can relate to on a medical level is joining facebook support groups. This is as simple as searching LPT Medical COPD & Respiratory Support Group on facebook and requesting to be added to the group. Once the admin has accepted you, say hello by posting a comment about something you want to talk about.
Even though you are sharing with others online, these people are real, and connecting via the internet is one of the safest ways to relate to people right now amidst a global pandemic.
When it comes to fostering old relationships with your loved ones through the duration of your disease, we could write an entire blog post, so we did, you can read it by clicking here
The main points of this article are as follows:
- Learn how to communicate effectively
- Learn as much about your disease together as possible, education is key in the management and treatment process, the more you know the more comfortable you will both feel
- Destress in any way you can that works for you, such as , exercise, alone time, breathing exercises, medication, or gardening.
- Find independence where you can get it
Point number 4. brings us into the final part of this section: Finding independence. Your independence is so important for your mental health, the current relationships you have, and future ones as well.
Before you were diagnosed with COPD, you could shower, walk to get the mail, do yard work, without thinking twice about it. Now, you might have to ask for help more often than you are used to because you are unable to do these chores on your own anymore. Many people find asking for help to be frustrating, and if this is not something you are used to, you must find ways to cope, but also find ways in which you can regain your independence.
If you are an oxygen user, your oxygen device may get in the way of you doing things that you could once do on your own. If your oxygen device is too heavy, not portable, or you do not enjoy using your oxygen device, it may be time for an upgrade.
There are modern forms of oxygen therapy that allow you to get back to doing more things you want to do. By buying a portable oxygen concentrator you will be able to travel alone, carrying your device on your own, and feel more confident managing your oxygen therapy on your own.
Depending on the model of portable oxygen concentrator they range from 4 - 18 pounds based on the flow settings and battery life. Having a device that runs on battery life is essential for independence because you will not have to rely on an oxygen refill company to deliver your oxygen tanks every week. Instead you will be responsible for charging your unit or keeping an extra battery on you.
Depending on your oxygen prescription, the right portable oxygen concentrator should have flow setting well above what your are prescribed. For example, it your Doctor writes you a prescription for 630 ml/min of oxygen, the Inogen One G3 could be the perfect oxygen device for you, because it has the capability to run at 1050 ml/min of oxygen so if you ever need to increase your oxygen output in your oxygen device, you will not have to return the device for a new one, you can simply adjust the setting.
As an established oxygen supply company in Denver, CO we have access to the top tier oxygen equipment on the market, but we also have over 10 years experience working with oxygen patients in all levels of their diagnosis. Of the many things we have learned in our experience, one of the most important is to focus one everyone's individual oxygen requirements but also their lifestyle.
Portability and accessibility are two of the main reason oxygen patients decide to switch from traditional oxygen tanks to portable oxygen concentrators, but there are other factors to think about when deciding on your oxygen equipment.
Click here to read about oxygen therapy equipment and how they all compare.
The next part of encouraging a positive mindset is learning how to enjoy the little things.
The little things
We have all heard the saying “enjoy the little things” and while it sounds like a clique, there are a lot of benefits to finding simple pleasures, especially if you have COPD. As a COPD patient, you are still capable of enjoying life, and similarly to the way you once did before you ever started experiencing symptoms.
But if there are aspects of your life, you won’t get back due to your disease, this is the perfect opportunity to try new things. And if you change your perspective this way, there is nothing that can stop you.
Examples of the little things would include family time, reading, movie marathons, gardening, walking, cooking, or any hobby of your choosing. You can start by setting goals; if you don't have a hobby, make a list of new activities or hobbies you want to try. Then make a list of the tools or motivation you would need to start doing said hobby.
Simply looking forward to something is a form of enjoying the little things. Spending more time in your day being active and having something to do will also give your mind something else to focus on besides your COPD symptoms.
Making you physical living space COPD friendly
When you have a disease like COPD, it's vital to breathe air that is clean and healthy as often as possible. Respiratory diseases cause your lungs and airways to be extra sensitive to irritation and inflammation, and even the smallest amounts of airborne contaminates can worsen COPD symptoms and even cause exacerbations.
Many people underestimate the importance of using a high quality air filter and neglect their house's ventilation system. Choosing a quality air filter is just another choice the is over-saturated with brands and models so you may not know what to look for or how to choose a kind that's effective and meets your individual needs.
Additionally, there are many different portable and small-space air purifiers you can find, as well as dedicated whole-house air purification systems that hook up to your HVAC system. However, it can be difficult to understand all of these different options, how they work, and how to know if you need one for your home. SO, we wrote an entire blog post about this!
You can read it by clicking here!
The next thing you should try to do in your home, is adjust your heating in order to keep your home at a temperature between 19 and 21°C. Cold temperatures may influence your COPD symptoms making you feel worse.
It is also crucial that you avoid using strong chemical products such as polish and paints when or if you ever do home renovations or basic house work. These products can irritate your airways causing you to experience worse symptoms.
The cleanliness of your home is one of the major factors in determining the indoor air quality. Therefore, cleaning with the intention to maintain good air quality is crucial to avoid COPD flare-ups.
Dust and dust mites, pets, smoking indoors, cleaning solutions, room fresheners and candles, are a few of the irritates that can spark a COPD exacerbation progressing your COPD faster into a more severe state. This is because when you breathe in irritates, they can cause problems like increased mucus production, making it difficult for you to clear your airways, or your airways begin to spasm, making it very hard for you to catch your breath even doing the most simple tasks.
Neglecting to clean your home of dust, allergens, pet dander, smoke and other respiratory irritates can cause major damage to your lungs, but it can also make your life a lot more chaotic than it needs to be. If your home environment is toxic to your lungs you will find yourself visiting the emergency room all the time, and once you’ve recovered from the exacerbation in the hospital and go home, the cycle will continue.
So you should keep your house clean, but you also need to be aware of the cleaning product you are using because they can be harmful to inhale, and for someone with COPD, this can cause exasperated symptoms. Having a low or no scent home is a good rule to follow. Fresh lemons (or lemon concentrate), baking soda, water, simple dish washing detergent, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol can be used in various combinations to clean most things.
If you ever need to use bleach, try to leave the house or go into a different room while someone else in your household cleans with bleach.
It is exceptionally important to keep your home a smoke free environment, meaning no cigarettes or e-cigarettes, and it is best to avoid vape products as well.
Smoke particles are often microscopic, that are byproducts of burning substances or other chemical processes, which can be inhaled into the lungs and cause irritation.
You should not only quit smoking yourself, you should not allow others to smoke inside you home. There are no good ways of getting rid of smoke entirely, and it’s harmful to have in your home for multiple reasons. It not only creates a lot of these microscopic particles that can live in your walls, carpets, and decor, it makes up gases and toxins that are truly lethal.
You might not realize it at first, but if you have a gas stove, or gas fireplace, you have to be cautious about the exposure to nitrogen dioxide emissions. These emissions can come from natural gas. In order to avoid these irritates, adequate ventilation in your kitchen is the best way to remedy this.
If you have any pets that shed, pet dander isn’t necessarily an issue for all people living with COPD. If you have even mild allergies this may cause exacerbated COPD symptoms. Regularly vacuuming and wiping surfaces, cleaning furniture, and linens in your home can help reduce pet dander.
Dust and carpets
It is so important to dust often in your home. Dust can be especially irritating to people with COPD who have allergies. In addition to keeping home surfaces free from dust, experts also recommend minimizing carpeting in your home.
If it is possible you should remove carpet from your home because dust mites will get into your carpet and live there, making it difficult to remove. Hardwood floor is much easier to manage, and does not hold pet dander or dust like carpet does, making your living environment more manageable with less irritates in the air. If it’s not possible to get rid of your carpet, use a vacuum cleaner with a built in air filter to bring up the dust mites and other irritants found in carpet.
Dust mites are also found in bed linens. So you should try to keep them clean as much as possible. This is as simple as washing your sheets using hot water and replacing pillows more frequently.
Depending on your body and your COPD, the humidity level in your home could be another irritant in and of itself. Keeping the humidity at a manageable so it is easier to breathe is great, but also keeping the humidity below 50 percent in your home is a good way of helping to control mold and dust mites. Dust mites grow fast when there is a humid environment. Be sure to always use the exhaust ventilation in your bathroom during and after you shower, provided that the vent sends damp air outside of the home and doesn’t simply recirculate it. If you don’t have ventilation in your bathroom, you may want to consider installing it.
It is so important that you follow your oxygen prescription to a T, so having oxygen equipment that you can carry with your throughout your house with ease is very helpful. Even "heavier" devices compares to the lightweight Caire Freestyle Comfort should still be maneuverable. The Respironics SImplyGo weighs 10 pounds, and stands 10" H x 6" D x 11.5" W meaning your SimplyGo will easily fit underneath the seat in front of you on the airplane, you can store it on the floor of your car or in the passenger seat as you drive,, and while this device may be heavier than other pulse flow devices, the SimplyGo is one of the smallest and lightest continuous flow portables available! You will be able to bring it with you wherever you go and you will have no problem finding a place to store it.
The SimplyGo includes a custom carrying case and a wheeled travel cart so you have the option to carry it over your shoulder or you can pull it behind you on the travel cart and it will make it around the house with you and .
If you need oxygen 24/7 is it helpful to own your own portable oxygen concentrator that is designed to run day and night. The Respironics SimplyGo is CPAP/BiPAP compatible and it even offers sleep mode technology! When you are relaxing in your chair at home, and you feel yourself dozing off, you can turn sleep mode technology on to ensure your oxygen gets delivered while you are sleeping. The sleep mode technology on your SimplyGo increases its sensitivity to detect your breath and it softens the pulse flow delivery so it doesn’t wake you up.
Living with COPD is all about balance, and creating good habits while overcoming bad ones. The goal is to create positive feedback loops that promote function in your mind and in your body.
Believe it or not, the way your body feels influences the way your mind reacts, feels, and makes decisions, and vise versa. The decisions you make and your emotions will directly effect how you body feels physically.
If you can keep your home clean and free from irritates your COPD are less likely to get worse overtime and your body will feel better allowing your emotions to be more positive and capable of making good decisions. Creating a healthy living space in your home is just one example of the many actions you can take in order to live a longer and healthier life with COPD.
We covered a lot of information in this article, and if you made it this far, leave a comment, let us know how you find inner peace both in your mind and your home!