Basics for Caregivers: Exercise and Respiratory Therapy

You will find other articles about the options for exercise and respiratory therapy, but what is your role as the caregiver for these things?  You are the encourager, towel carrier, water bottle filler, and driver.

When your patient first hears the doctor mention respiratory therapy, your loved one will either embrace it or try to get out of it.  In either situation, you need to be ready to encourage them to go.  It will be so easy for them to come up with excuses not to go.  Can’t you hear it?  “It takes too long.”  “We will have to drive too far.”  “It just makes me so tired.”  It is in those times that you need to remind them that an hour in therapy could make a huge difference in their breathing!  It is up to you to encourage them when they are at home, away from the doctor.  In those moments of uncertainty, you could have just the right words to keep them moving in the right direction.

Some of the excuses that I remember hearing was that it was too far and coordinating a ride would be too hard.  That is when it is up to you, the caregiver, to step up and remind them that it doesn’t matter how far it is.  It doesn’t matter how long the session will take.  You are there for them because of your love for them.  There is no meter running on your car, and there is no pay back required.

They need to understand that you believe in the respiratory therapy too.  No matter what stage of COPD the patient is in, if the doctor believes that therapy is a good idea, embrace it.  The doctor knows that if the patient stops concentrating on staying healthy, their condition will worsen more quickly.  Exercise strengthens the lungs and heart, and I’m sure that you know that these two organs are really important!

Once the respiratory therapy sessions are over, you will need to encourage your loved one to continue the exercises on their own.  This might be just as important as the sessions themselves.  It is like starting an exercise program and quitting just after you learn the exercises.  What good will it do you, if you are not actually using the program?

You need to make sure that they have all of the equipment necessary to make continuing the exercises at home possible.  You may need to purchase a few small things, like exercise bands or some light weights.  It is also possible that you may need to step out and purchase something like a treadmill or a gym membership, if walking outside is no longer an option.

Help your patient to make sure that they have the proper settings on the oxygen for the exercise, plenty of water and a clear space to work in.  You can have all of the knowledge in the world about respiratory therapy, but if the patient is not actually doing the exercises, they will not help.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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