Dad developed COPD in January and just rapidly declined. Now I'm his carer. Any advice?

Follow
Share

So let me give you a bit of a back story, it all started in January when we were moving house, he thought it was a chest infection and got prescription to deal with it. I thought he was bad then, breathing heavy and not doing tasks in the house move, where 5 months ago it would of been easy. At this time my mum came back from where she was living (they just separated) to help us with the move and so did my brother.


We move into our new house and now its just me (a 21 year old) and my dad (62 years old). 2 months into moving into our new house, I caught him smoking. Even though he apparently stopped years ago due to having a heart attack and other heart problems. From my knowledge he's stopped now since I confronted him.


4 months down the line and I just feel absolutely terrified, upset, tired and angry. He is getting worse literally day by day. Not only has my mum moved to another country but my sister doesn't want anything to do with my dad, imo her reasoning is just warped due to her going through a depressive stage of her life (I wont go into detail in this). Which I feel will have an affect on my dad too; also me.


My dad doesn't really go into much detail about his COPD and I've asked to go to the doctors with him so I can have a better understanding on what he's going through and how I can help him, but he doesn't want me to go. My dad is a very closed person and can't do emotions or conversations... at all... With family


I've looked up what I can do to help him, we bought a treadmill but he hasn't gone on it. He doesn't diet, and doesn't really eat (whole foods) more just snacks. I've tried getting him to diet. He has said to me "Doctors tell you to do this and that to live an extra 10 years (this being in your late 70's/early 80's... not your 60's) but those are the worse years of your life, why would you want to?". Now that's not what his 21 year old son wants to hear from his dad whose health is rapidly going down hill. Also it shows signs that he's really depressed,he doesn't have a 5 year goal, he just sleeps all day, no motivation to do anything, he use to go to the casino 5 times a week and its rare he goes now. But he's in denial about being remotely depressed, he won't even go to someone to talk about it as he thinks psychiatrists are frauds.


Where this is very capable to look after my dad at the moment, doing tasks, which aren't hard but are just so frequent and I know they will get more intense. I don't know how i'm going to cope when i go back to university in September, I'm going to be spending so much time there , dealing with a society and day to day life at uni. Even when i'm at home i'll be doing a lot of work for uni. I've also got a job lined up that i'm starting in July and other commitments, I don't know how i'm going to handle all this and look after my dad.


To try and express the extent of how bad my dad is now, he walked to our garage which is like 20 steps away from the house and went to look in some draws for some paper work. it took him about an hour and a half (it would take someone who is healthy bare maximum 10 minutes) and when he came back into the house he was beyond f*cked.


I've talked to someone about this and he said that i'm becoming a Co-dependent, as i'm doing literally everything for him. I'm so confused as to what to do, i don't want to resent my dad but i can't leave him the way he is. I'm just so angry that he let himself get like this, he's had so many opportunities, to stop smoking, to get healthy, to do a little bit of exercise, the fact that his mum died from pneumonia -which is part of the COPD umbrella term- and didn't set him straight is unreal to me. I'm tired all the time, just seeing him like this is horrible and i can't imagine what he's going through, the tasks add up and i become fatigued from all of it. I'm worried to leave him for a long time because he's not even capable to wash his own plate without it becoming a task for him.


Sorry this is so long, has anyone or is anyone going through a similar situation that can help me cope with this, is there anything I should do for myself to make me mental and physically cope with this ? anything more/less I can do to help my dad out in this difficult time?

4

Answers

Show:
I just want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to reply! really am grateful for all your responses!

SueC1957. I believe he does have Oxygen, has a mask which he's suppose to use when he sleeps, but he doesn't however he uses it whenever he needs oxygen, he also has an inhaler which he uses alot, i believe that has a steroid in it, i may be mistaken. he does indeed have the pulse-oxymeter, he uses that all the time to check his oxygen levels! he has had to go to hospital to do scans etc and everything has come back good (heart and lungs etc) i dont know how much of that is true though. I also sadly found a receipt when he went to the shops today and it had a pack of cigarettes on it :(.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to fireballxray
Report

If he's not on oxygen, it sounds like he should be! Also look into pulmonary rehab, it did wonders for my mother and I think its why she has done so well with her COPD all these years. It will teach him to live with his COPD and to maintain an active life. My MIL was supposed to go to but never went and her IPF declined very rapidly, I suspect inactivity played a part in that and now she's at the end of her battle.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to worriedinCali
Report

Hi Fireball,
I'm so sorry for your situation. It's also sad that your Mom left the country and your sister won't help in his care. But you can NOT be his savior. You can call to see what services are available for him. The doctor's office can't give you any personal information but they can recommend agencies to help him. Check to see if the cost would be covered by insurance.

You need to read up on-line about COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Inform yourself on what causes it (smoking, in his case) and what the limitations and prognosis is. Especially since he won't allow you into a doctor visit.

COPD is a progressive disease. He will need help at home as his disease progresses. Yes, unfortunately, he will decline further.

If he can't walk 20 ft. without becoming short of breath, it sounds like he needs oxygen. I'm assuming he isn't using it or you would have mentioned it AND you can't smoke while wearing oxygen because it is flammable. I wonder if he refused oxygen from the doctor because he knows he can't smoke if he uses it. 
Don't bet that he's quit.
I used to smoke (in my 20's) and I smoked through sinus infections and bronchitis. It's a powerful addiction.

There is a little machine called a pulse-oxymeter, that clips on a finger to check the level of oxygen circulating in the body. They cost around $25. I would purchase one and see if he will let you check his levels. It will show heart rate and oxygen saturation. At least you will have some numbers to work with. If he dips into the high 80's he needs O2. He needs to report that to his doctor. You can keep a log of his readings and what he was doing at the time. That's very helpful for the doctor.

I'll bet your dad has been smoking all along. COPD doesn't just "happen". It's a slow process. When he was weakened by the chest infection, it shows up, where you didn't see it before. I'm not sure if the casino where you live allows smoking but the ones in Las Vegas do. I can't even go in because it's so smoky. Good chance he was smoking every day.

He will have to pace himself and do a little at a time, then rest. That means a walk to the bathroom, then rest. A walk to the kitchen, then sit down to make a sandwich. It's hard to get used to but your body just won't cooperate. There may come a time when he can't lie flat to sleep. Some COPD sufferers sleep in recliners or slouched over a bedside table, just to get air. He needs to take COPD classes at the local health center.

Whatever happens, do NOT give up your studies. It is HIS responsibility to manage his care or find a home health company that can. He WILL be oxygen dependent at some point.
He can rent small portable oxygen tanks (usually covered by insurance) or get an oxygen concentrator machine. Here, the big model costs atound $500.

By the way, unless YOU use the treadmill, you might as well sell it. Again, COPD is a progressively worsening disease and his condition won't allow him to exercise. It's not something that you can build your body back up.

Again, I'm sorry. It will be a long road. Keep well and concentrate on what you have planned. Make your father responsible by telling him you're not available to be his nurse. It's a "tough love" situation.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to SueC1957
Report

Phew, Fireball, that's a lot of responsibility you're taking on.

Right. You will find at least two resources in your father's area for him to connect with. One, there will be a COPD clinic. Two, there will almost certainly be something called the Expert Patients Programme - if you go online, go to NHS Choices and start researching there you should be able to find contact information.

I know this is incredibly difficult for someone of your age feeling more or less on your own and worrying about your father, but you have to separate your anxiety about him from your own life. There are LOADS of networks that will support him if he chooses. Nobody cares more about him than you do, I'm sure that's true; but it doesn't mean that they can't practically do more to help him and motivate him than you can.

I'm in the UK too, so if I can help feel free to send me a private message if you want.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

Related
Questions