February 19, 2019

Managing COPD Better

Edward of Henniker proudly showed off his certificate hanging on the wall of his apartment marking an important milestone for him – he quit smoking 

“Since I was 12 years old, I smoked cigarettes,” he said. “I quit last August.” 

Smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which Edward was diagnosed with last February. COPD causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Flare-ups can occur during extreme shifts in weather and around people who smoke. When Edward has a flare-up, he coughs more and suffers from shortness of breath. 

“One time I had to sit for two hours, I couldn’t breathe,” he said.

Shortly after Concord Regional VNA launched the Breathing Better With COPD program last year, Edward began receiving regular home care visits from our agency to help manage his condition. This team approach to caring for people with COPD has been shown to decrease hospitalizations, office visits, emergency department visits, and potentially shorten lengths of hospital stays.

Working closely with Concord Hospital, the goals of the program are to relieve symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, improve exercise tolerance and ability to stay active, prevent and treat complications and flare-ups, and improve overall health. 

When his nurse Kathy Butcher arrives, she takes his temperature, blood pressure, reviews his medications, and provides Edward with suggestions on managing COPD. The pair reviews his medications and medical appointments outlined in a binder created by Kathy. It is a tool that helps not only Edward, but his physician too. 

“Ed is pretty good,” said Kathy. “Once he knows what to do, he does it. Ed really wants to do what he needs to do.”

They also use the Krames Patient Education Living Well With Chronic Lung Disease booklet. The booklet helps teach Edward about breathing, exercise, energy conservation, medications, preventing infection, sleep problems, nutrition, and emotional and social well-being. 

“COPD affects more than 16 million people in the United States,” said Debra Nacel, Occupational Therapist, Home Care Director, Team 3. “Concord Regional VNA served 474 patients who had a primary or secondary diagnoses of COPD last year.

Edward who has been an active person throughout his life, even now, has had to make adjustments as he works to manage his condition. It is not uncommon for him to help his neighbors in need.

“It is hard for Ed to sit still, he’s an active person,” Kathy said. “This program has been beneficial for him.”

For more information about the Better Breathing With COPD program, call (603) 224-4093.