Last updated: September 2023
I'm not sure which is more difficult: having COPD or caring for someone who has COPD. The fact of the matter is that when someone in your family has COPD, everybody in the family suffers together. It's not really possible to separate the patient from the caregiver because COPD takes its toll on everybody.
The role of caregivers
As our disease progresses, it gets harder and harder to do things for ourselves. Enter the caregivers. Caregivers are the people who we value immeasurably, and if we're lucky enough to have a spouse who is our caregiver, we are totally blessed.
Not all spouses are cut out for this job. Only somebody who doesn't have a caretaker-spouse would understand how blessed we are.
My husband retired to stay home and take care of me. That being said, it's not all fun and games, even if you do have a spouse.
Whenever I ask my caregiver to do something or get something for me, I feel a certain depth of guilt.
The challenges of daily caregiving
It's hard on my caregiver to have to be here every single day and to be expected to perform these tasks day in and day out. It's like being a mother. It's a thankless job because when I am in crisis, my caregiver is also in crisis, through no fault of his own.
I feel like I should be doing more on my own instead of asking for help, and yet it is just so much easier to ask.
My spouse and I are starting to age, and though aging is inevitable, for some reason, we never really thought this was going to happen to us in this way and yet here we are. He had a health scare, and I had to face the possibility of him not being here. It was a frightening thought.
He is getting tired, and I have learned that in order for him to have better mental health, he needs to stay calm, so my job is to be patient with him and make sure he is taken care of.
He isn't quick to sign up for tee time with his golf buddies or visit to see his 96-year-old mother because when he does, he feels his own guilt. My caregiver worries incessantly about me and how I will manage while he is gone. He is about 45 minutes away from me, so I have to be okay.
If caregivers don't take care of themselves, they could lack the ability and compassion to give back. It's a two-way street.
It is so very important that caregivers are encouraged to take care of themselves first. Getting advice from other caregivers who are in the same situation is a good place to start.
Using the resources of organizations and foundations serving caregivers, they could be offered support and counseling. Committing to community centers/senior centers and making the effort to be active once or twice a week can also be immensely helpful.
Where do you stand with your COPD?