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Mom, 97, breathes rapidly and shallowly frequently. Her sats are fine, but she gets panicky. She was diagnosed with end stage COPD and given less than six months to live in May 2016. She has since improved to the point she no longer needs day-time supplemental oxygen. She has developed the habit of breathing shallowly and rapidly. We've done the "smell the roses, blow out the candles" over and over as well as reminding her to slow her breathing down which she does fairly well when reminded. Any suggestions for exercises to encourage deep breathing. I've had her lift her arms up to increase lung volume on the inhale, lower arms and exhale. I've showed her "belly breathing" and she understands about her diaphragm. I've encouraged her to watch her chest go up and down (normally only her shoulders move). She does very well on the incentive spirometer. She still has the volume capacity, although there are limited lung sounds in the very lower levels unless you are coaching her specifically.

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Mom has improved tremendously. She is alert, oriented, and sharp. That all sounds awesome to me. Why do you think it has to be improved? If she gets panicky, maybe just focus on the steps she can take to calm herself (and/or consider medication) rather than trying to retrain her breathing.
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I understand the temptation to "let it all go" but Mom was "fired" from Hospice because of her tremendous improvement. She was taken off daytime oxygen because she no longer needs it. When the overnight study was done, her sats dropped into the high 80s for a total of one hour of the ten hours she was sleeping. She is alert, oriented and sharp as a tack. Her various exercises contribute to her ongoing good health and she deserves our best efforts to help her be as well as she can be. (Her mother's sister and her father's sister both lived well past 100, so it's not time to write her off as having a short time left.)
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The fact that her o2 sats are normal does not mean that she's not experiencing difficulty breathing, which can be terror inducing. If using the oxygen makes her calmer, let her ( that's what mom nh does). And yes, medicate the anxiety.
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Treat the anxiety. Ask the hospice nurse about meds for calming.
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Oh my, Mom is 97. I could understand all this emphasis on improving her breathing if she were 77 or even 87, but at 97 she realistically has not go many more days left on this earth. If I were you I would stop harping on the way she breathes, you can do the exercises a few times a day but let the rest go. Sorry if that sounds harsh.
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