Checklist helps people with COPD assess quality of life
Tomorrow is World COPD Day, marking the perfect time for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to stop and assess their quality of life.
Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan says if lung disease is preventing people with COPD from doing the things they enjoy, it is time to take action. Accessing appropriate health care services may help to manage symptoms and lessen the burden of everyday tasks.
Lung Foundation has worked with Palliative Care Australia to devise a brief Quality Of Life Checklist to help people with COPD identify when they might need palliative care in order to live as well as possible at home.
“We suggest the supportive services that are part of palliative care – things like home care, meal delivery – be offered as early as possible to help patients manage as their disease progresses,” says Mrs Allan.
The checklist allows people with COPD to identify how they can enhance their quality of life in a way that is meaningful to them.
It is a process that is designed to assist people on their journey to have a better quality of life commencing the day of diagnosis right through to various end of life issues.
“It does not mean you are near the end of your life. In fact, the earlier you access these services the better quality of life you will have,” Mrs Allan said.
”It is important for patients and clinicians to raise the subject of supportive and palliative care as early in their COPD journey as possible.”
“An early conversation is always better than a conversation had at a late stage,” she said.
Mrs Allan says these conversations are key to ensuring people with COPD have the same access to palliative care services as people with malignant disease.
“We find patients with chronic lung disease are missing out, because they are not raising the need for palliative care with their doctors and their doctors don’t know when to raise it with these patients,” she says.
COPD is not curable but it is treatable if properly diagnosed. People most at risk are 40 years or older and have a history of smoking or exposure to dust, gas or other fumes through work. Typically people with COPD have a persistent cough, with or without phlegm, or are more breathless than others their age.
Mrs Allan says breathlessness is not a normal part of aging. It is important to see your doctor about your lung health if you are more breathless than others your age or have had a cough for more than three weeks.
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