Surviving with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) means that you need to plan ahead to make your life more organized and easier to live. COPD is an umbrella term used to describe many progressive lung diseases like emphysema, asthma, bronchitis etc. under one broad term. This condition is generally characterized by breathlessness, chronic cough, wheezing and tightness in the chest. And these symptoms can make your autonomous movement incredibly hard. It would take a herculean effort to accomplish even the simplest of chores due to your constant breathlessness. That is why smart planning can allow you to take care of yourself and be more independent around the house, especially if you are living alone.
According to a study that was published in April, 2015 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, people with COPD who use oxygen at home are more at risk of having a burn injury.1 Elderly people with COPD can suffer more injuries due to loss of balance and other gait related issues.2 Hence, it is safe to presume that home safety precautions can save you from many serious accidents if you have COPD. Here is a list of things you can do to make your house less hazardous.
Opt For The First Floor
If you are moving to a new place or reconstructing your house, then opt to live on the first floor. Rehabilitation specialists recommend people with COPD to take stairs as and when they can. Taking the stairs is an excellent aerobic exercise that can strengthen you from inside. But you should also keep in mind that although it is a good exercise, it is not feasible for you to take stairs every now and then. And in case you can’t opt to live on the first floor, then try to walk around the house as much as you can. Walking can also help you to regain your strength.
Buy Shoes That Provide Support And Balance
Rehabilitation specialists always emphasize on the importance of wearing the right shoes, whether you are relaxing at home, exercising or going out. People should think about getting lace up shoes that are comfortable as well as supportive as those will allow them to move more freely. Sandals, crocs and flip-flops are heavily discouraged. Elderly people often have problems with their gait and balance. Hence, supportive shoes can help them with that. So, opt for shoes that can provide you both support and balance.
3. Clear The Clutter
You need to keep your house movement friendly. Hence, for that you must get rid of the clutters that are lying around your house. Clutters are potential tripping hazards. American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recommends people to throw away even their throw rugs to avoid tripping. Making your house clutter-free will allow you to move freely, especially if you use supplemental oxygen at home.
Hide All The Loose Wires
People are more likely to trip over a loose wire than anything else. So, you need to get rid of all the wires and cords that are lying around the house, especially on the floors to reduce potential health hazards. Get a professional to help you with your electrical connections if you can’t do it yourself. If you are using extension cords, then make sure to not let those wires lie around on the floor. Be mindful of all the gadgets and their wires that are likely to lie around the house like your laptop, phones, humidifiers etc. If you can tuck away all these wires, then you can greatly reduce your chances of getting into an accident around the house.
Mind Your Oxygen Cord
Supplemental oxygen therapy is often recommended for people with COPD at home. And supplemental oxygen comes in two forms. It can be a portable cylinder that people can carry around and it can also be a concentrator. A concentrator is an electrical device that increases the concentration of oxygen by removing nitrogen from air.
If you are constantly using supplemental oxygen cylinders or concentrators, then you must pay attention to their cords. Some people like to put their portable oxygen concentrator in one room and then move it around the house with its cord all over the place. This is a potential tripping hazard that you can’t avoid for long. So, be careful with the cords of your concentrator and potable oxygen cynlinders.
6. Get Hand Rails Installed
If you have stairs in your house, you need to make sure that you have installed sturdy hand rails too as stairs can pose one of the biggest threats to your well-being. You can also install a grab bar in your bathroom to help you get out of your bathtub.
Carry Oxygen To The Bathroom
Fatigue can take over quickly, especially during a stressful bathing experience. A constant supply of oxygen can maintain a steady rate of energy in you. So, you can carry your oxygen to the bathroom as it can save you from feeling exhausted.
8. Make Some Changes To The Bathroom
Some people with COPD can feel suffocated in enclosed spaces like bathrooms. If you feel the same way, then you can keep your bathroom door ajar while taking bath. And you can also install an exhaust fan to maintain a steady circulation of fresh air in your bathroom.
You can keep a shower chair in the bathroom for your comfort. Also, you can install a detachable shower head. All these changes can make the whole bathing experience less strenuous for you.
Avoid Exposing Yourself To Open Flames
Oxygen is not flammable but it can aggravate a fire in a massive way as it aids in the process of combustion. So, avoid cooking on an open flame with your oxygen cylinder in the vicinity of your stove. You can rather cook using a microwave oven. But if you want to cook using a stove, then make sure to put your oxygen cylinder and concentrator away from the stove. Also, ensure a smoking-free environment in your house to avoid accidents.
10. Keep Your Oxygen Handy While Doing Your Chores
A lot of people take off their oxygen masks and nasal cannulas while doing household chores. But your body requires more oxygen when you are being physically active. So, continue to wear your oxygen mask or nasal cannula while carrying out your chores. This will allow you to be more active and it will significantly reduce your chances of getting into hazardous situations.
|↑1||Sharma, Gulshan, Ragai Meena, James S. Goodwin, Wei Zhang, Yong-Fang Kuo, and Alexander G. Duarte. “Burn injury associated with home oxygen use in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” In Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 90, no. 4, pp. 492-499. Elsevier, 2015.|
|↑2||Yentes, Jennifer M., Kendra K. Schmid, Daniel Blanke, Debra J. Romberger, Stephen I. Rennard, and Nicholas Stergiou. “Gait mechanics in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” Respiratory research 16, no. 1 (2015): 31.|