Tips to More Effectively Communicate About a COPD Diagnosis

man with COPD mask
Following a COPD diagnosis, it’s important to have open lines of communication with family and friends.

It began with your inner circle, those closest to you, and has gradually been spreading outward to close friends and acquaintances. Revealing your COPD diagnosis and knowing how to answer the many questions that arise about it could be uncomfortable – for you, and also for those you are speaking with as well.

Interestingly, you may find that the largest challenges come in communicating with your primary caregiving partner – the person who is closest to you personally. The caregiver/care receiver relationship can bring up a variety of emotions. The person on the receiving end of care may feel insecure and self-conscious as a consequence of needing assistance, that may lead to feelings of anger and frustration, just to name a few. The caregiver may feel incapable of meeting each of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright fatigued from attempting to handle someone else’s care needs along with their own.

There are some key methods to improve communication with your caregiving partner:

  • Make sure you’re both completely informed about COPD, the associated symptoms and treatment options, as well as its typical progression. The physician can provide information for both of you to better understand what you are facing.
  • Do not beat around the bush. Clearly and honestly express your feelings and needs.
  • Listen to the other person – and let them know they’re being heard. Maintain eye contact, nod or use other nonverbal indicators to show you are listening.
  • Be assertive without being controlling. Your feelings are valid and deserve to be discussed in a constructive way without lashing out at the other person.
  • Refrain from using argumentative words and phrases, for instance, “You always…” or “You never…”. The individual is likely to become defensive, intensifying hurt feelings.
  • Remind yourself that no one is a mind-reader. If you are assuming your care partner knows what you are thinking or how you’re feeling merely by your actions, it opens the door to misconceptions.
  • Always maintain empathy and respect for each other. Both of you are facing uncharted territory and evolving challenges, and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.

It’s also a good idea to call a time-out if emotions begin to escalate. Take a break from each other while focusing on calming activities, for example, listening to music, reading, exercising, or writing in a journal. When you both feel calmer, try the conversation again.

At Serenity Home Care, we understand the frustrations that can develop when managing a chronic health issue like COPD, and we are here to help. Our friendly caregivers make ideal companions to talk with and spend time with, engaging in interesting activities together. We work with family caregivers to make certain they have time needed for self-care, while enriching the lives of the older adults for whom they care. Contact us any time at 250-590-8098 for additional information about our Highlands home health care services. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide our award-winning home care services, please visit our Service Area page.

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