How to Create a Self-Management Plan for COPD

September 8, 2022
IN
Guides
BY
Andrew Gallagher
4 Min Read

What is a COPD Self-Management Plan

The COPD self-management revolution is upon us! No longer are people at the mercy of just healthcare professionals to keep them healthy. People now have the ability to take control of their own health and improve their lives by learning how to manage their own health.

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This revolution is being driven by the internet and social media, which are giving people access to information that was once only available in clinics or hospitals. People are also becoming more aware of the importance of nutrition and exercise, and how they can impact health.

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There are many different ways to learn about health self-management. You can read books, watch videos, or join online communities that offer support and advice. You can also find apps that help you track your progress and give you tips on how to improve your health.

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No matter how you choose to learn about health self-management, the most important thing is that you take action and start making changes in your life. It's never too late to start managing your own health, and the sooner you start, the better!

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πŸ“± Filter is a free app to help you manage your mental and physical well-being. We help you monitor your condition and create a self-guided management program that reduces your anxiety caused by COPD.

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As the world becomes more and more technology-driven, there is no better time to learn about self-management and how you can build a COPD self-management plan that works for you. This is your chance to take control of your own health and improve your life!

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What is Self Management and How Many Patients with COPD Have a Self-Management Plan?

Self-management is how a person with a long-term health condition deals with their condition, and how they get through it every day. This can include:

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  • Coping with the emotional effects of the condition
  • Taking medication(s) and managing other treatments
  • Recognizing and dealing with symptoms (known as monitoring your condition)
  • Attending various appointments
  • Making lifestyle changes

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Self-management is the practice of taking control of one's own health, both short and long-term. Learning how to manage your own health can help you live a longer, happier life. It is well documented that having a self-management plan that you follow can really help your condition. In theory, everyone has a self-management plan if they have followed the guidance given to them by their doctor such as taking medication, adopting their lifestyle, etc. - they are taking an active role in their condition. But it can touch on many other areas of your life.

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To do this well, someone needs to have the right information, education, support, and services. Learning how to manage your condition may help you feel better, stay active and live well.

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πŸ“– Check out our 4 part series on how to Slow your COPD Progression

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Why is Self-Management important?

Self-management is an important part of long-term health care because it allows people with chronic conditions to have a better quality of life. It also helps to prevent further health problems and has a number of added benefits.

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Self-management is a key part of living with a long-term health condition. It’s about taking control of your own health and making informed decisions about your care.

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There are many benefits to learning how to manage your own health, both short and long term. These benefits can include:

  • improved quality of life
  • improved physical and mental health
  • improved energy levels
  • reduced anxiety and stress
  • slow disease progression
  • more independence and confidence

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How to Does a Patient Self-Manage with COPD

People with any long-term chronic diseases, especially patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) even if they attend regular reviews with their healthcare professionals, are responsible for their own care for the majority of the time. This means that they are de facto β€œself-managing”.

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For the person, this is more than a narrow biomedical approach to detecting and managing exacerbations. A commonly cited definition of self-management includes having the confidence to deal not only with medical management but also with the role and emotional management of their condition(s).

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For people living with a chronic disabling condition such as COPD, coping with day-to-day activities (e.g. walking, dressing, and eating) may be the priority of self-management skills. Support for changing health behaviours (sustained smoking cessation and increased activity) is crucial.

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Self-management is not a single event and for behaviour change to be maintained, continued support is crucial.

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πŸ“– To see how to get this support for your self-management, check out our article on Building a Support Network.

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Key Areas of Self-Management

Take your Medication

It's important to take any prescribed medicines. These include inhalers, as they can help prevent your condition from getting worse (flare-up). Read the information leaflet that comes with your medication. This will explain what will happen if you take this medication with other medicines or supplements. Check with your doctor (this could be your GP or a hospital doctor) if you plan to take any over-the-counter remedies. For example, painkillers or nutritional supplements. These can sometimes cause problems with your medication. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about the medication you're taking or if you're experiencing any side effects.

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Exercise

Exercising can help improve your symptoms and quality of life. The amount of exercise you can do will differ from person to person. Exercising until you're a little breathless isn't dangerous. But don't push yourself too far. Talk to your GP before starting a new exercise program. This is important if your symptoms are severe or you have not exercised in a while. Your GP may advise you to take part in a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme. This will include a structured exercise plan tailored to your needs and ability.

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Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying extra weight can make shortness of breath worse. You can lose weight through a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet. Some people with COPD find that they lose weight without trying to. Eating food high in protein and taking in enough calories is important to maintain a healthy weight. You may be able to get advice from a dietitian as part of the pulmonary rehabilitation program.

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πŸ“± What is a pulmonary rehab program? Check out our breakdown of what it is and why it is important for people with COPD.

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Monitor your Condition

This is a really important part of managing a long-term condition - especially COPD. There are a few simple things that you can do to get started:

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  • Symptoms: Recording your symptoms If they're affecting your normal activities or getting worse then this could mean that you might need to make some changes to your management plan.
  • Medication: Recording your medicine allows you to monitor if it is working or not. For example, if you are recently on a new medication and you take it as prescribed, it may mean you have to change it again as part of your management plan. You can also make a note about any side effects that you experience.
  • Mood and Activity Levels: Track mood and activity levels, what makes you feel good, and what makes you feel bad.
  • Triggers: Try to figure out what triggers your condition. these can be dusty places, fumes (such as car exhausts), smoke, air freshener sprays or plug-ins, strong-smelling cleaning products (unless there is good ventilation), hairspray, and perfume.

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πŸ“– Check out our article on how How to Monitor your COPD for ways to get started on managing some of those aspects mentioned above.

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Regular Medical Reviews

You'll have regular contact with your care team to check your condition and to provide support to patients. These appointments are part of the management for patients and involve: talking about your symptoms, talking about your medicine, and tests to check your health.

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Taking Care of your Mental Health

Unfortunately, chronic conditions are not easy, and they will take a toll on your mental health. What's worse is that oftentimes this aspect is not part of COPD management plans. Some simple things that you can do to get started are to include meditation, music, or simply talking to someone (friend/therapist).

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Overall, there is significant evidence that self-management can help people live higher quality lives with fewer symptoms and spend less time in the hospital. For the person with the disease it may be hard to change health habits but slowly changing over time can have huge benefits to their lives.

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πŸ“± Filter is the only product that focuses on improving how you mentally cope with your COPD. People who suffer from COPD don’t live a β€˜normal’ life. We help you recognize this and overcome those unhelpful thoughts.

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References

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/48/1/6

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/copd/copd-self-management/

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