I'm pretty sure my Dad (70) has end stage COPD, what will happen next?

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My dad used to be a smoker, but quit about 17 years ago. I'm away at college and it seems like every time I come home to visit my dad's breathing is worse and worse. He won't even leave the house because he needs oxygen all the time. He also won't take showers, go without his oxygen, and barely moves. My mom tells me he hasn't changed his socks for probably six months because getting dressed in the morning is so hard and is causes him to become exacerbated with his breathing. It takes him at least 20 minutes every morning to get dressed because of how his lungs are. My parents just recently moved to a one sory house so he wouldn't have to go up and down the stairs and now he doesn't exert himself as much and refuses to exercise just even a little. I can tell that his COPD is way worse than it was when I first started college almost 4 years ago. Being that I'm away at college, I feel I am missing out on the last bit of time I have left with him. How long could he possibly live (minimum and maximum) in years? If he has less time than I would hope, I just need to know so I can spend every moment possible with him.

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I am so sorry anyone has to see a loved one suffering to breathe, it is frightening and devastating. I lost my brother last November to COPD. Memorial Day last year while hospitalized with another bout of pneumonia the specialist told me at his end stage 6 months was the best he had left. The end was more of the same repeated infections, pneumonia and panic induced admissions. He was alone and never married. This would cause horrific difficulties relaxing for sleep even with medications. Discharged to rehab and then sent home again was a vicious cycle, ending in his last bout with pneumonia and informed Hospice at rehab he did not want to be admitted to the hospital again, with full face mask oxygen, nebulizer and inhalers he was tired and grateful morphine was available per Hospice instructions to open the airways when needed in gradual increased amounts. His dosage eased him home to the Lord without suffering in his sleep. It is Hospice I am most thankful for.
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Captain, I have heard that as well, and we used to keep a fan blowing as well. It does seem to make them feel better but we still kept the oxygen on.
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Captain, you're wrong on the issue of a window fan. Where did you get that idea? I could finesse an answer, but frankly, you don't know what you're talking about.
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a window fan trained on the patient provides possibly more relief in the form of pressurized air than o2 provides . most trained nurses try to cram an o2 canula into the patients nose , clear up to the red . friggin idiots .. they should fit loosely and barely inside the nostrils . you cant draw enough air -- even o2 enriched thru two 1/8 inch tubes . try breathing solely thru a 1/ 4 inch drinking straw . youll turn blue and pass out ..
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Some people have COPD for years and years. You really need to know from his pulmonologist (lung Dr) . They will let you know what stage of COPD you are in. My MIL passed away last year and she went from stage 2 to to stage 4 within a couple months. Stage 4 She was coughing all the time from pnuemonia and on oxygen 24/7. We even showered with oxygen on. We used to give a Nebulizer treatment before showers to help breathing. When I realized she was no longer able to walk with her wheelie walker. That's when things got really bad. She lasted only a few weeks after that point. I hope this helps, I remember being that place and not knowing if we should call hospice. No one really tells you what to expect at each stage.
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Always consider tomorrow as the last day and live today with that in mind, nothing worse than regrets.

Please consider magnesium supplements for your dad, I know it sounds stupid and minimalist but University study from BYU has proven the mag has a great benefit to the lungs with limited potential side effects. I have seen a drastic increase in lung function, O2 levels with decreased lung fluids in both my mum and uncle, he has severe COPD and was on O2 for about 12 years until I put him on mag supplements.

Additionally: Make sure that no one use perfumes or fragrances near your dad. No perfumes or fragrances in the laundry detergent, stay away from Gain especially with the Freebreeze. For people with COPD, perfumes and the perfumed fragrances are nothing less than a toxic poison in their lungs and many are not aware that the bulk of their respiratory issues are due to the fact that their laundry detergent is killing them.

Best of luck for you and your family and always remember to live today in a way that you won't feel regrets tomorrow.
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I'm sorry you're seeing this decline in your father; it sounds as though he's just given up.

I can't answer your question as to longevity; only a doctor could do that. If you have HIPAA authority, you can call his pulmonologist and ask that question. It's possible also that your mother may already have asked.

But I do want to make some suggestions which perhaps you can encourage your father to consider, especially since it seems as though he's just given up.

1. Movement; it would help him to avoid eventually become immobile but also helps circulate the oxygen throughout his body, which in turn can help him move more easily, including getting dressed.

2. Pulmonary rehab. Our hospital has it; the qualifications are prescribed by Medicare but if he meets them, he could get unlimited free pulmonary therapy. Getting him to go might be another issue, but sometimes patients get competitive and try to outdo each other, so it might actually spur him to exercise.

3. Even walking will help. Get a pulse ox (oximeter) and walk with him, monitoring his oxygen Sat rate (saturation rate) to ensure it doesn't drop below 90 or so. Start with short walks, and let him rest often.

4. Get him a rollator, a walker with 4 wheels, brakes and a seat. He can sit down while he's walking, and the basket will hold a portable oxygen concentrator.

5. Contact the DME that supplies his oxygen and ask for a portable concentrator. If he has tanks, you'll have to choose between them as Medicare won't pay for both. But with a portable, which is much smaller and has its own little wheeler, he can put it in a rollator, or pull it behind him when he goes out. Combined with a rollator, it's easier to use than the larger cylinder tanks.
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Hi Mashw001,

I am so sorry you all are going through this. My grandma was diagnosed with COPD in her 80s. I hesitate to make any comparisons because she was significantly older than your dad and had diabetes plus signs of inflammation we did not know the source of. The reason I'm writing is mostly that I hope it will bring your question back up on the board so others with more knowledge of the disease can share their information.

Have your parents been pretty open with you about what is happening with your dad?
I feel like the best thing you can do is really just keep talking to your parents. I know it is really hard to focus on schoolwork when you have so much on your mind. I hope you have a couple of supportive friends who you are able to talk with.

This is not much help. I’m sorry -- I hope someone else can offer better information for you.
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