What is COPD? COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis is a lung disease that is characterized by obstruction of airflow in and out of the lung that interferes with normal breathing. COPD is a progressive disease that will worsen over time and it affects everyone differently and at different rates. The severity of COPD is measured in four stages. Stage four, or End Stage COPD, is the most severe stage of the disease process.
Patients who have end stage COPD are always short of breath. They are always hungry for air even at rest and they may state they feel like they are suffocating. They physically cannot take a deep breath of air into their lungs or they cannot blow the air out of the lungs. They have poor activity tolerance and even have difficulty with the simple activities of speaking and eating. They may have a cough producing phlegm and they have low blood oxygen levels. People with end stage COPD spend most of their time in a recliner sitting straight up with their arms elevated on pillows or on a table in front of them to make breathing easier. Most do not even go to bed to sleep. They exist in the recliner 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
End Stage COPD causes the heart to beat rapidly, causes weight loss, causes feelings of anxiety and agitation, infections like pneumonia and respiratory and heart failure. Medications fail to work as they did before. Imagine feeling like you just ran as fast and as far as you possibly could, you are out of breath and there is nothing you can do or take to relieve the symptom of air hunger. This is how someone with end stage COPD feels.
End stage COPD patients are frequently seen in the ER and have a history of frequent hospitalizations to control exacerbation of the disease process, lung infections, respiratory failure and heart failure. It is common patients with end stage COPD have been hospitalized two to four times before they are referred to hospice. One Heart ‘n Home patient was hospitalized twelve times within six months before he was referred hospice. As a side note, this patient lived eleven months on hospice without returning to the hospital before he passed.
The hospice team is a group of dedicated medical directors, a pharmacist, nurses, social workers, spiritual care providers, aides and volunteers who treat patients with End Stage COPD. They create an individualized plan of care with specialized treatments and medications that work effectively to control respiratory symptoms, pain, anxiety, agitation, infections and heart failure. Medical care is brought to the patients wherever they live, keeping patient’s from returning to the hospital setting. Traveling hospice is utilized for patients who travel. Another Heart ‘n Home patient who spent extended time in the hospital before hospice was able to complete a bucket list, with the support of hospice. Heart ‘n Home even assisted him to travel to Nevada twice before he passed. After all, he had the time because he was not spending his time in the hospital. He and his family reported great memories were made on both trips!
Heart ‘n Home has developed a Care Visit program to teach patients and families about the possibilities, or the miracles, of hospice. Evaluations by an RN can be ordered to help providers determine when the patient is ready for hospice care. The care visit and evaluation can be set up easily by calling Heart ‘n Home.
In conclusion, Heart ‘n Home is committed to enhance the quality of life for patients who struggle with end stage COPD. Heart ‘n Home affirms life while providing legendary hospice care every day every time. Hospice really is about living! Call us for support.