You are not alone, and it is okay to ask for help. Family, friends, co-workers and your healthcare team can be part of your support team. Remember, your family and friends may like to offer help but may need some guidance on the type of help you need most. Not everyone living with COPD will have the same type of support needs, but the more common types of support given are physical, emotional, and social.
Think about the activities or parts of your daily routine that you can do easily without help. Then think about the activities or tasks that you are not able to do, or you can do but cause you to tire or become short of breath easily. Consider asking for help with the activities that you have a harder time completing or doing safely.
Caregivers, family and friends can support you in many ways. Some people living with COPD may need help understanding diagnosis, symptoms or knowing what steps to take when their COPD is getting worse. At times, you may have trouble using your oxygen equipment, lifting or moving around the heavier oxygen tanks or remembering to take your medications. Your support team can learn how to use the oxygen equipment or assist with medication management.
Your support team can also encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle. Share with them ways they can help you stay more active, eat healthier or provide encouragement if you are quitting smoking. Ask them if they would be interested in joining you on walks or being your quit smoking buddy or support system.
Palliative care is another form of support. Palliative care is a team of healthcare providers, nurses, and social workers. It improves your quality of life by helping to relieve physical and emotional symptoms and can also help communication between you and your healthcare providers.
Taking care of your emotional health is as important as managing the physical symptoms of COPD. Your support team may be there when you are overcome with emotions and need someone to listen. If you find these feelings or emotions are not going away, talk to your healthcare team about your mood and ask for a referral to a mental health professional. Types of mental health professionals may include a psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed social worker. If you are having trouble finding a licensed professional, contact your insurance to find in-network providers or search for in person or virtual programs online.
If you have trouble affording therapy, there may be low cost or affordable treatment options. These options may be available through your local health system, social service programs, area aging on agency, 2-1-1, federally qualified health center or health department.
You may think social support is when a friend or family member join you in different activities or are available to talk when needed. While that is a type of social support, there are other types of social support you may find helpful . As your COPD progresses, you may need assistance with some of your daily activities like dressing or showering, or instrumental activities of daily living like shopping or housework. You can talk with your support team about ways they can help- like running errands or assisting with meal preparation.
Talk with your healthcare provider about attending pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that combines exercise, education and social support. Through pulmonary rehab, you will learn the skills needed to manage your COPD and stay active.
Your support team can help you navigate healthcare and social services. You may also find it helpful for someone else like a family member or friend to attend appointments with you. They can help you stay organized by taking notes, asking questions, or assisting to schedule follow up appointments. If you are having trouble affording medications or treatment, talk to your healthcare provider about financial assistance programs.
Find Support Through the American Lung Association
- Lung HelpLine
Our Lung HelpLine is open seven days a week and is staffed by experienced registered nurses, respiratory therapists and certified tobacco treatment specialists. We are here to provide you with the support you need and the answers you are looking for.
- Living with COPD Community on Inspire
Connect with others, share experiences and learn from friends in this free online forum for people facing lung disease. Our Living with COPD virtual support group can help build your support network and give you a place to chat with peers about how COPD is affecting you.
- Better Breathers Clubs
Learn ways to cope with lung disease and provide support from others who share in your struggles. Better Breathers Club meetings are in-person support groups that give you the tools you need to live the best quality of life you can.
- Patient & Caregiver Network
Join the Patient Caregiver Network, which is a nationwide, online patient support program providing direct access to education, support and connection to others also living with lung disease.
- Become an Advocate
Sometimes helping others is a rewarding way to help ourselves. Advocates speak up for a cause they believe in or a group of individuals they support, using their voice to help everyone living with COPD.
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.
Page last updated: April 28, 2023