Elder Care - COPD Symptoms and Complications

October 25, 2023

Image for Elder Care - COPD Symptoms and Complications

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes the airflow from the lungs to be obstructed. It is usually caused by long-term exposure to irritants such as chemicals, pollution, and most commonly, tobacco smoke. COPD is a progressive disease, meaning it will continue to worsen, especially if the individual does not halt exposure to the elements that have brought on the disease. 

If you are caring for an aging loved one who is an active smoker, COPD could very well be a part of their future health concerns. Because of regular coughing and upper respiratory infections, many long-term smokers may have the beginning stages of COPD but not be aware of it. The symptoms don’t usually present themselves until the disease has caused significant lung damage so continuing to encourage your loved one to stop smoking, even if he’s smoked for 40 years, is still the best way to prevent the onset of this disease that can lead to many other health issues. 

There are symptoms that you and your loved one’s elder care provider can watch for as indicators that your loved one may have COPD. As mentioned previously, many of these symptoms may be a part of your loved one’s daily life if he’s a heavy smoker, but watch for an increase in them to indicate COPD may be setting in. 


Do you hear whistling when your loved one breathes or does he struggle to get enough air in? Wheezing may indicate the airflow is already obstructed. 

Frequent Respiratory Infections

If your elder care provider is continually helping your loved one recover from multiple attacks of the flu, bronchitis, or other respiratory infections, COPD may be the cause. 

Shortness of Breath

If climbing the stairs or walking out to the end of the driveway results in your loved one having a hard time catching his breath, his lungs might be struggling to work properly. 

Chronic Cough

The coughing will usually be accompanied by mucus that can be white, yellow, or green. Many individuals with COPD will find their coughing is at its worst in the morning when they get out of bed. 

Lack of Energy

If your loved one has found recently he just doesn’t have the energy to go on his daily walks with his elder care companion or carry the laundry upstairs, it might be due to COPD. 

Getting his COPD diagnosed and under control is important for your loved one to live a healthy and productive life. COPD, when untreated, can lead to many other serious health issues such as heart problems, high blood pressure in the lungs, lung cancer, and frequent bouts of the flu and pneumonia, which can lead to more damage being done to the lungs. 

COPD will not simply go away on its own, even if your loved one stops using tobacco or is no longer exposed to the chemicals that brought it on so diagnosing it early and developing a treatment plan is the best recourse for your loved one to manage and control his COPD, and not have his COPD control him. 

If you or your loved one is looking for Elder Care or Placement Services in Los Gatos, CA, please call Familiar Surroundings Home Care.

Santa Clara County: (408) 979-9990 

San Mateo County: (650) 353-9777

Santa Cruz County: (831) 480-3990


Tags:Elder CareElder Care Los Gatos CAHome Care