COPD and the Elderly

COPD is a medical term we hear frequently when talking about aging seniors, which can affect people that are receiving elderly care at home. But what is it? And what are the symptoms? Let’s discuss this condition in detail to see how it can affect your senior with the disease.

What is COPD?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is an umbrella term for ongoing inflammatory lung disease causing airflow from the lungs to be obstructed.

Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma are three diseases affecting the lungs that can be categorized under the term COPD.

Symptoms of COPD usually do not appear until after significant damage to the lungs has occurred.

What are the symptoms?

Elderly Care Tanglewood, TX: COPD

• Wheezing
• Difficulty breathing
• A feeling of tightness in the chest
• Shortness of breath that may be exacerbated by physical activity or exercise
• A chronic cough that may produce clear, white, yellow, or green mucous
• Recurring respiratory infections
• Swelling of the lower extremities, especially the feet, legs, or ankles
• Low energy
• Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
• The need to frequently clear the throat of excess mucous

Seniors suffering from COPD may also experience exacerbations, which are episodes during which their symptoms tend to worsen and persist for at least a few days at a time.

What causes COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is known in most cases to be caused by the long-term exposure of inhaled pollutants such as tobacco smoke, (even second-hand), fumes, chemicals, and dust. Certain work environments can contribute to factors that play a role in the development of the disease.

Genetics may also contribute to some people’s likelihood of getting the disease, even if they have never smoked or been exposed to pollutants or irritants in the air.

Are there complications?

Yes. People with COPD have a higher risk for developing other diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. Since people with COPD have inflammation in their lungs and also in their blood, it is believed that blood inflammation can cause damage to the muscles, bones, and heart of people with the disease.

Can it be treated?

Yes. Most people diagnosed with COPD can have a good quality of life with proper management of the disease. In many cases, seniors will have a mild form of the disease and therapy may not even be needed, other than being told to quit smoking if they do so. If your senior has a mild form of COPD, talk to their doctor about ways that they can effectively manage their symptoms while receiving elderly care at home.

Effective therapy such as doctor-prescribed medications such as steroids and antibiotics, oxygen lung therapy and pulmonary rehab, and in severe cases, surgery, are all options for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The most important step in any COPD treatment plan is to stop any and all smoking, which is the only way to prevent it from getting worse. If you have a senior parent or loved one who may receive elderly care in their home who is showing signs of COPD, talk to their medical care provider as soon as possible.


If you or an aging loved one are considering Elderly Care in Tanglewood, TX, contact the caring staff at Personal Caregiving Services at 832-564-0338.Providing Care in Houston, Bellaire, West University Place, Katy, and Sugar Land and the surrounding areas.