During National COPD Awareness Month in November, we’re joining healthcare organizations around the globe to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the American Lung Association, 11 million Americans are living with COPD, and estimates show that millions more are living with this disease undiagnosed. While there is no cure, COPD is a manageable chronic condition, if a patient and their caregiver receive comprehensive, disease-specific education and a treatment plan is in place. Home healthcare can inform and empower patients and their caregivers to live the best life possible with COPD.
What is COPD and what are the symptoms?
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S—the disease that makes it hard to breathe and includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Many people have both of these conditions, and it’s challenging to understand the symptoms—chronic coughing and mucus production, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness—along with their severity. A treatment plan set forth by a physician to include home healthcare to educate the patient and caregiver on what symptoms to expect, their progression, how to monitor them and how to respond if symptoms worsen. Home health clinicians are available for questions and coaching along the way.
Adhering to a COPD Treatment Plan is Critical
Home healthcare can work collaboratively with your physician to administer a comprehensive treatment plan that may include smoking cessation, medications, therapies and immunizations, physical activity, nutritional improvements along with breathing and airway clearance techniques. Guidance on home-air quality and ways to avoid infection and pneumonia are also important factors. Engaging COPD patients and their caregivers in their plan of care, along with monitoring tools and one-on-one coaching, can help patients adhere to their treatment plan and move towards a healthier lifestyle. Physicians benefit by receiving patient reports and outcomes to improve overall patient care.
In-Home Healthcare is Covered by Medicare and Most Insurances
For moderate to severe COPD, Medicare will pay for home-based care at zero co-pay, if you meet eligibility criteria. Medicare Part B and D cover smoking cessation programs and aids, which is one of the first steps to improving life with COPD. Medication coverage depends on your supplemental programs, and private insurers offer coverage as well. There is partial coverage for bronchodilators, inhaled steroids and oxygen treatments. Talk to your physician about your treatment options and call your insurance provider to determine benefits available to you.
COPD Causes Increasing Anxiety Due to Impacts on Breathing
Let’s face it—it’s scary to have shortness of breath, and it can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. Home health clinicians teach patients and caregivers about lung function and proper breathing techniques to help patients take control of their breathing. Patient education and self-care also help lower depression that often surfaces with a COPD diagnosis.
Avoiding Unnecessary COPD Hospitalizations
When living with COPD, it’s important to understand your symptoms and their day-to-day variations. When symptoms become worse than usual and last for several days, this is called an exacerbation and can often require a trip to the hospital. Though not all hospital stays are unnecessary, assessing symptoms and seeking treatment at home can help avoid a hospital visit and help you avoid a stressful situation. Having healthcare support at home or via telephone to help you evaluate and often prevent an exacerbation, and your home-health clinician works with your physician toward to the right intervention.
Do you or your loved one have COPD? Click below to find an Amedisys location near you today and learn more about how home health can help.