Effectively Communicate About COPD With These Tips

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Living with COPD brings many challenges, which can either strengthen or stress relationships within families.

It began with your inner circle, those closest to you, and it has gradually been spreading outward to good friends and acquaintances. Sharing your COPD diagnosis and knowing how to reply to the various questions that arise about it can be uncomfortable – for you, and also for those you’re speaking with as well.

Surprisingly, you could find that the biggest challenges are in speaking with your primary caregiving partner – the individual who is closest to you. The person on the receiving end of care may feel self-conscious and insecure as a result of needing assistance, which could result in feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration, just to name a few. The caregiver/care receiver can also experience a variety of emotions related to their role. The care provider may feel incapable of meeting each of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright exhausted from trying to handle someone else’s care needs with their own.

There are a number of key techniques to improve communication with your caregiving partner:

  • Make sure you are both adequately knowledgeable about COPD, the associated symptoms and treatment plans, as well as its typical progression. The physician can provide resources for both the patient and his/her family members to better understand what you’re facing.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. Clearly and honestly express your emotions and needs.
  • Listen to your partner – and let them know they’re being heard. Maintain eye contact, nod or use other nonverbal cues to demonstrate you’re being attentive.
  • Be assertive without being controlling. Your emotions are valid and deserve to be discussed in a constructive way without lashing out at the other person.
  • Refrain from using argumentative words and phrases, for example, “You always…” or “You never…”. When argumentative words are used, the individual may become defensive and hurt feelings will intensify.
  • Remember that no one is a mind-reader. If you assume your caregiving partner knows what you’re thinking or how you are feeling simply by your actions, it opens the door to misinterpretation.
  • Always maintain empathy and respect for each other. Both of you are facing uncharted territory and evolving challenges, and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.

It is also a good idea to call a time-out if emotions start to intensify, and communicate about COPD care needs only with a calm tone. Take a break from each other and concentrate on calming activities, such as reading, listening to music, exercising, or writing in a journal. Begin the conversation again when you both have a calming energy.

At Golden Harmony, we understand the frustrations that may arise when battling a chronic health issue, such as COPD, and we are here to help. Our professional caregivers make ideal companions to talk with and spend time engaging in pleasant activities with, fostering a healthy environment at home. We work with family caregivers to make sure they have the time needed for self-care, while enriching the lives of the older adults for whom they provide care. Contact us at 919-426-7522 for more information about in-home care in Wake Forest and surrounding areas and to schedule a free in-home consultation. See our full service area.

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