- Care emphasizes improving the physical and mental comfort of the patient, consequently making things easier for caregivers as well.
- Although used synonymously, palliative care does not necessarily mean end-of-life care or hospice. It simply means improving the social, mental, and physical health of a patient with an incurable disease.
Advanced COPD may make the patient feel drained, both physically and mentally. As the symptoms worsen, they need more than just medications.
Palliative care for COPD is provided as a team effort consisting of doctors, nurses, psychologists, dieticians, physiotherapists, and counselors or social workers who specialize in this type of care. Decisions are tailor-made in consultation with patients and their caregivers in a way that suits them the best.
Palliative care for COPD may consist of:
- Managing patient’s rest and physical activities:
- Advanced COPD may make even mild physical activity seem like an ordeal.
- The care team makes sure that the patient and caregivers understand the need of the patient to take adequate rest. Light physical activity may be facilitated to help the patient feel better while not putting extra stress on their lungs.
- The patient may need help with everything, including eating, drinking, personal hygiene, and even turning in bed. They may be wanting to sleep or stay in bed for longer durations. Their need for rest must be valued by the caregivers.
- Managing physical symptoms:
- Managing mental health:
- Patients with advanced COPD may experience considerable anxiety, fear, and other issues. This may make the disease seem even more difficult to cope with.
- With adequate counseling, support, and reassurance, patients with advanced COPD can have reasonably improved mental and emotional health. Moreover, caregivers may need counseling so that they can take care of their ailing loved one in the best way possible.
- Ensuring proper nutrition:
- Patients with advanced COPD may have difficulty eating due to their symptoms. The appetite may go considerably down as the disease progresses. Although seeing their loved ones starving may be an ordeal for caregivers, it's better to not force-feed them because it may cause them harm and make them more uncomfortable.
- The palliative care team can help caregivers with ensuring proper nutrition for their loved ones. Caregivers may provide their loved ones with small spoonfuls of soft foods or help them have a few sips of water to relieve any dryness or irritation in the mouth, improve urine output, improve digestive functions, relieve coughing and chest congestion.
- A few patients may need to be fed through a feeding tube.
End-of-life care is beneficial not only to patients but also to their caregivers. It helps them provide the best possible care to their loved ones and prepares them for impending grief or bereavement.
What are the stages of COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not a single disease but a group of lung diseases that tend to worsen with time, making breathing difficult. COPD affects over 16 million Americans and is the fourth leading cause of death.
COPD includes different diseases, but it is of three major types that include:
All these diseases carry the common characteristic of causing progressive damage to the lungs that interferes with the flow of air through the airways. Based on the lab findings and severity of symptoms, COPD can be divided into different stages.
The COPD Foundation has a staging system that classifies COPD stages based on seven parameters:
- Spirometry (a type of test that measures lung functioning)
- Regular symptoms
- Number of exacerbations in the past year
- Computed tomography (CT) scan findings in the chest (emphysema on a CT scan)
- Presence of chronic bronchitis
- Other underlying health conditions (comorbidities)
The COPD Foundation classifies COPD into five stages:
- Stage 0: Normal spirometry
- Stage I: Mild disease
- Stage II: Moderate disease
- Stage III: Severe disease
- Stage U: Undefined
Another classification system categorizes COPD based on the symptoms and risk of exacerbations (flare-ups) such as:
- Group A: Minimally symptomatic, low risk of future exacerbations
- Group B: More symptomatic, low risk of future exacerbations
- Group C: Minimally symptomatic, high risk of future exacerbations
- Group D: More symptomatic, high risk of future exacerbations
A very popular staging system for COPD, called the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), classifies COPD based on symptoms and exacerbation history to plan appropriate treatment. It categorizes COPD into four stages:
- GOLD 1: Mild disease
- GOLD 2: Moderate disease
- GOLD 3: Severe disease
- GOLD 4: Very severe disease
What are the signs of end-of-life with COPD?
Stage IV chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also called the most advanced stage or end-stage COPD. The doctor will determine if a patient is in this stage based on their symptoms, examination, and certain investigations (particularly spirometry). During this stage, symptoms get quite bad and interfere with the patient’s daily life.
Symptoms of end-stage COPD include:
- Severe cough
- Severe shortness of breath or breathing difficulty that may make even simple tasks such as brushing teeth or having a meal difficult
- Crackling sounds on breathing
- Excessive mucus formation
- Barrel-shaped chest
- Breathlessness even while at rest
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
End-stage or advanced COPD does not necessarily mean that the affected person won't survive for long. With appropriate treatment including lifestyle modification and chest physiotherapy, most people can live a productive and long life. Regular follow-up with the doctor greatly helps avoid flare-ups and helps the person have an improved quality of life.
Top What Is the End-of-Life Care for COPD Related Articles
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or air pollutants. Conditions that accompany COPD include chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, and emphysema.
Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chronic cough. Treatment of COPD includes GOLD guidelines, smoking cessation, medications, and surgery. The life expectancy of a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease.
COPD QuizCOPD is a combination of three conditions? Take this quiz to learn the three conditions that make up the pulmonary disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Energy Foods for COPDWhat are COPD foods to avoid that may trigger symptoms? Learn more about the COPD diet. Boost your energy and combat COPD with these diet tips.
COPD vs. Asthma (Differences and Similarities)COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma both have common symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest. COPD is caused by tobacco smoking, while asthma is caused by your inherited genetic makeup and their interactions with the environment. Risk factors for asthma are obesity, exposure to cigarette smoke (even secondhand smoke), and personal history of hay fever. There is no cure for either disease, but symptoms can be managed with medication. A person with asthma has a better prognosis and life expectancy than someone with COPD.
COPD vs. EmphysemaCOPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other healthcare professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US.
Exercises for COPDThe more you exercise, the better you'll feel with COPD. Breathe easier with these 10 exercises from WebMD.
How Long Do COPD Exacerbations Last?Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations may last for two days or even two weeks, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
How Long Do End-of-Life Symptoms Last?End-of-life symptoms vary from person to person. For some, they may end quickly, and for others, they may linger for days, weeks, or even months.
How Long Does Lung Cancer Take to Develop?The time taken for lung cancer to develop is variable. It takes several years for cancer to develop in the lungs. Early lung cancer does not alert obvious physical changes. Moreover, patients can live with lung cancer for many years before they show any signs or symptoms.
Lung Disease & Respiratory Health: Should I Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test?If you had COVID-19 symptoms but never got tested, or if you have long-term symptoms that just won't go away, you may want to get an antibody test. It can tell you if you've already had the virus. Here's what you need to know.
Lung Disease & Respiratory Health: How to Prevent Mold in Your HomeMoisture, humidity, dampness -- all can cause mold to grow in your home. Try these tips to prevent mold buildup.
What Are Lung Segmentectomy and Limited Pulmonary Resection?A lung segmentectomy is a procedure to remove the diseased lung without removing excess normal lung. Lung segmentectomy and limited pulmonary resection are performed due to bonchiectasis, early-stage lung cancer, lung nodules, tuberculosis, and suppurative lesions. Complications include air leakage, bleeding, residual airspace, infection of the pleural space, respiratory failure, and cardiac complications.
What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With COPD?Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases with the chief symptom of breathlessness and cough. COPD is a slowly progressive disease. Depending on the disease severity, the five-year life expectancy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ranges from 40%-70%. That means 40-70 out of 100 people will be alive after five years of diagnosis of COPD.
What Is Usually the First Sign of Lung Cancer?Most often, lung cancer does not show any signs and symptoms until it has advanced to higher stages when it becomes difficult to treat. The initial signs and symptoms vary among patients but may include cough that remains unrelieved and gets worse over time, hemoptysis (coughing up blood) or reddish spit, chest pain that worsens on breathing or laughing, hoarseness of voice, weight loss, persistent chest pain, and frequent lung infections.
Will a Chest X-Ray Show Lung Cancer?When diagnosing lung cancer, chest X-rays do not provide a definitive diagnosis of lung cancers at an early stage (when they are more treatable). Until the lung cancer shows up on a chest X-ray, the tumor is often too far advanced to be cured. Often, many things seen on a chest X-ray turn out to be treatable problems or artifacts.