Breathing is one of those activities that we don’t really think about until things stop working well.
For instance, some residents of Anamosa and elsewhere may suffer from a variety of health conditions that affect their lungs and overall breathing. These conditions may even lead to a need for palliative care or other types of traditional care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care works with many clients with a variety of pulmonary conditions, including lung cancer, COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and more. Some conditions are caused by or aggravated by other conditions, such as surgeries that remove part of the lungs or reduce their volume.
The result is that many clients have little energy to perform even the most basic physical tasks. Although they may want to go for a walk or clean the house, their lung power and other systems tell them that it isn’t a great idea and it’s too strenuous. They may only be able to go a few steps before they need to pause and catch their breath. It’s definitely a challenge for people used to going wherever they want and not having to think about their breathing.
But there are some options to help, including a technique called pulmonary rehabilitation.
More providers are offering pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a series of exercises and classes designed to strengthen your breathing. It won’t cure permanent lung damage but can help you learn more about and manage your condition. It can also possibly reduce some breathing or endurance challenges, and hopefully improve your quality of life.
The Cleveland Clinic, which offers rehabilitation in the Ohio area, said people who experience pulmonary rehabilitation can improve their abilities to exercise and even walk; or have as many side symptoms such as cough. One more benefit, which could appeal to seniors with other serious medical conditions, is that people receiving pulmonary rehabilitation don’t have to go to the hospital as much for breathing situations.
How it works
Part of the appeal of pulmonary rehabilitation is that it involves a team of skilled medical professionals.
You may encounter nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, respiratory therapists, and other specialized careers, all with the goal of helping your quality of life.
What goes on in a session can vary but may include different types of assessments to measure breathing rate, blood pressure, and more, including these rates when sitting or being active. The first few sessions include many types of measurements to set a baseline and be compared to measurements in the future.
Clients receiving this information may not have been told much other than “your breathing is not great.” But a big part of managing your own care is learning what is happening in your body that is causing your breathing to be limited.
This knowledge, however, could be followed up by a series of exercises to help strengthen muscles and different ways of breathing. It’s likely easier to practice these under the supervision of a medical professional rather than at home.
Finally, pulmonary rehabilitation can also include tips on living with your particular condition, including going places, needing help, or eating (or rejecting) certain foods or drinks which could aggravate breathing. You’ll also learn about different tools you can use at home, which medications may work the best, or things to watch out for that may require checking with a provider.
Every area that offers pulmonary rehabilitation may have a different format, from individualized treatment to a group session where people with different pulmonary conditions come together and share strategies and experiences. This could also be valuable for those thinking they’re alone in dealing with their condition.
The number of sessions can also vary depending on the program and individual. In some cases, it may be a weekly class for a month or so, or something shorter or longer. Some communities also offer this type of service as part of home health care, which could be especially handy for people unable to leave their homes easily.
Celebrate these options
Because pulmonary rehabilitation can improve someone’s quality of life, there’s a lot of interest in letting as many people know about it as an option.
Certainly, health care providers can spread the word and recommend this treatment during a visit. But other medical professionals can suggest it as well.
The medical community is also encouraged to take part in Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week, an annual observation that educates people about the usefulness of this treatment option.
The week runs March 14-21 this year. Organizations that offer these services are encouraged to let the public know, whether it’s through articles in a local newspaper or health magazine, publicity campaigns, or even proclamations from local government officials.
To encourage even more people to get involved, the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation is offering a video contest that providers can enter that shows off how they spread the word in their communities.