COPD: Connecting with the Social Support You Need
(November 4, 2014)
No matter how strong we think we are, we can all use a little support. This is particularly true for anyone diagnosed with a chronic lung disease, like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Dealing with a chronic disease is stressful and can be frightening. It is common for patients with COPD and their caregivers to feel anxious, depressed, or alone, especially initially after the diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about these feelings. Another great option for coping with the challenges of COPD is accessing social support. The American Lung Association has many resources available to help you connect with the social support you need.
Research shows that people with COPD who get social support not only have improved quality of life, but may actually live longer. Registered respiratory therapist and Lung HelpLine staffer, Mark Courtney, says “I think that many patients are looking for a different perspective. It is one thing for a health care professional to tell them about their lung disease, but talking to someone in their shoes means a lot more. With medical information relatively easy to find, many people are looking for information and questions that only someone who has a lung disease can provide. This is where programs like our Lung Connection and Better Breathers Clubs come in to help people connect with others with similar experiences, concerns and fears.“
Not every person likes to connect with support in the same way. Luckily there are several support options for people with COPD, so you can find the perfect fit.
The Lung Connection Community. If you are looking for an online support community, this is the space for you. This free community allows you to post topics, reply to discussions and private message other users. It is a rich community full of other people facing lung disease who are happy to help.
Better Breathers Clubs. These clubs are a great way to connect with social support in person. Better Breathers Clubs offer the opportunity to learn ways to better cope with COPD while meeting and getting the support of others who share in your struggles. These support groups give you the tools you need to live the best quality of life you can. They are held in every state throughout the country, meet regularly and feature educational presentations on a wide range of relevant topics.
My Fighting for Air Community is a way to access practical support, which can help ease your stress. It is an online caregiving coordination service where family, friends, colleagues and neighbors can organize support of everyday tasks, from simple house chores to weekly grocery trips.
Lung HelpLine. You may have questions about COPD and find it helpful to chat with a respiratory therapist or nurse. The experts at our free Lung HelpLine are available via phone or internet to answer your questions.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a program, often offered at your local hospital that can include activities like exercise, nutrition counseling, breathing techniques and more with the overall goal of improving the well-being of people that have trouble breathing. In addition to the benefits to your physical health, it often allows you to connect with others who are living with COPD.