Living Well with COPD: A Guide for Older Adults

22 Dec 2023 | Advice, Chronic Illness

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can present unique challenges, especially for older adults. Understanding this condition and adopting strategies to manage it are crucial for maintaining a high quality of life. In this article, we’ll explore COPD, its impact on older adults, and practical tips for living well with this respiratory condition.

Understanding COPD

COPD is a progressive lung disease that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, often caused by long-term exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke or environmental pollutants. As we age, the risk of developing COPD increases, making it essential for older adults to be informed about the condition.

COPD Symptoms in Older Adults

Recognising the symptoms of COPD is the first step in effective management. Common signs include persistent cough, shortness of breath (especially during physical activities), wheezing, and chest tightness. Older adults may experience these symptoms differently, so it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and tailored advice.

Lifestyle Adjustments for COPD Management

Quitting Smoking

For those who smoke, quitting is the single most effective way to slow down the progression of COPD. There is lots of support available to quit smoking from healthcare professionals or smoking cessation programs.

Medication Adherence

Follow your prescribed medication plan diligently. Bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and other medications can help manage symptoms and improve lung function.

Exercise and Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Engage in regular, tailored exercise programs to improve lung function and overall fitness. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can provide valuable support and guidance.


Maintain a healthy, balanced diet to support overall well-being. Adequate nutrition is crucial for managing COPD and preventing complications.

Avoiding Respiratory Irritants

Minimise exposure to environmental pollutants, secondhand smoke, and other respiratory irritants. Ensure your living space is well-ventilated.

Practical Tips for Daily Living

Pacing Activities

Break down tasks into manageable segments, allowing for rest periods. Listen to your body and avoid overexertion.

Utilising Assistive Devices

Consider using assistive devices such as oxygen therapy, inhalers, and mobility aids as prescribed by your doctor or health care team.

Monitoring Symptoms

Keep track of your symptoms and any changes in your condition. Report these to your healthcare team promptly.

Staying Connected

Maintain social connections to prevent isolation. Share your experiences with friends and family, and consider joining support groups for individuals with COPD. Interacting with others that have the same condition and know your struggles can help you feel less alone.

The Role of Healthcare Professionals

Regular check-ups with healthcare professionals are essential for managing COPD effectively. These visits allow for adjusting treatment plans, monitoring symptoms, and early intervention if complications arise.

Living well with COPD as an older adult requires a multifaceted approach. By understanding the condition, making necessary lifestyle adjustments, and staying connected with healthcare professionals, individuals can lead fulfilling lives despite the challenges posed by COPD. Remember, you are not alone—seek support, stay informed, and prioritise your well-being.

How Eximius can help

If you or a loved-one would like to understand more about how we support clients with COPD, or any of the different care options we can provide, please contact us for further information. We’d love to help.   

You may also be interested in the following:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Overview (NHS)

How To Eat Well As You Age

Chronic Disease Diagnosis: The New Next Steps In Your Life

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