15 Holiday Tips for the LOVED ONES of People with Lung Conditions
Updated: Dec 21, 2018
On my blog, I am known for giving health and wellness tips to people who have lung conditions. I offer friendly advice on how to make everyday life easier with less breathlessness. Working in pulmonary rehab for close to 9 years now and being a respiratory therapist for about 16 years, I feel like I have a good grasp on what many of my lung patients need to do to improve their breathing and increase strength. Yet as I sit here typing, I’m inspired this week to write a blog for the loved ones of my patients and readers. It has been an emotional month for many of my patients. Our weather in Virginia has been everywhere but sideways (and many Virginians wouldn’t argue if I said it’s been sideways)! We have had warm days, cold days, snowstorms and tons and tons of rain. Needless to say, because of the weather my patients can’t count on their breathing from one day to the next. (FYI – If you are a loved one reading this… a majority of lung patients are highly affected by weather changes) I have had patients upset that they couldn’t handle the task of decorating like they used to and many worried how they are going to handle all the running around and engagements they have over the holidays. I tell you people, the struggle is real. So if you are reading this, I have put together 15 Holiday Tips for the LOVED ONES of people with lung conditions. I encourage my readers to copy the link and send it to your family members. Don’t be afraid to share with them how they can help you have the best holiday yet. Often time, your family members just need to be informed on what things they can or should do to make the holidays a little easier for you. And if nothing else, it can be a wonderful conversation starter on how you may need them to pitch in more especially if you are accustomed to doing most of the planning yourself. Remember, we are in this TOGETHER.
So with no further ado, here are my 15 Holiday Tips for the LOVED ONES of People with Lung Conditions
1. Give it to go - After the holiday meals, package yummy leftovers up for your family member or friend with a lung condition. Meal preparation takes a ton of effort to accomplish. It is often nice to have easy to reheat meals that you can just pull from your fridge, pop in the microwave or oven and enjoy. Be aware of any food allergies that your loved one may have.
2. Leave a spot open – Leave a parking space close to the house open so your family member or friend doesn’t have far to walk in. Meet them at the car and offer to carry in any packages, bags or food they may have brought with them. Carrying anything is very difficult for anyone who struggles with a lung condition. Just by doing this will allow them to settle in a bit easier when they arrive to your home.
3. Make a plan- People who have lung conditions don’t always enjoy spontaneous activities. They like to know how to plan for each and everything they do. Whether it is knowing how long their personal oxygen concentrator will last them, or how many oxygen tanks to bring, or the distance they will have to walk at an event… they like to have a plan and know what to expect in order to prepare for the activity.
4. Understand that no two days are the same- Just because your loved one looked well yesterday doesn’t mean they are breathing well today. Trust me, this is one of the things that frustrates anyone with a lung disease the most. They can do everything right like take all of their medications and get plenty of rest and still feel breathless. Be understanding of this.
5. Pick and choose- People with lung conditions often don’t have the energy to last through an entire day of activities. Plan to do activities during the time of day when they have the most energy not when it’s only good for you. Everyone is different so you will need to talk to them in advance. Asking them will show your care, concern and desire for them to have a great time.
6. Traditions may need to change (or adapt)- Enjoying all the wonderful traditions of the season sounds great, but in actuality when your loved one has a lung condition you may have to make some changes so that they can enjoy it. For instance, change a holiday meal to a potluck or offer to host events at your home instead of theirs or draw names for gifting instead of having to buy gifts for many different people.
7. Give them a pass- If your loved one has a lung condition and has to cancel at the last minute, giving them a hard time or a guilt trip doesn’t make them feel any better about having to miss out. If they are canceling on a fun activity or event, please understand that it was the hardest thing they had to do was to let you down (and anyone else involved). Know that they are really looking forward to the next time they get together with you and are hoping that you understand.
8. Be Supportive- It isn’t easy for anyone to talk about a chronic illness, so if your loved one with a lung disease opens up about their diagnosis be supportive. Listen to their situation without providing or insisting on a solution. People with a chronic illness like lung disease don’t always want to talk about their diagnosis either, they want to more than anything feel normal, so if they do decide to update you on their condition, listen intently and only provide feedback if asked.
9. Take time to touch base- Many times people with lung conditions feel isolated. It always feels good to have people in their lives that love them and reach out to check on them from time to time. The holidays can feel especially isolating if the loved one is on social media and constantly seeing images of family gatherings and parties. Send a text, make a phone call, or send a holiday card to let them know you are thinking of them.
10. Deck the halls- I know by the time I brought out all of our Christmas decorations and put them up I was exhausted! I can’t imagine having to do that with a lung condition. First off carrying anything is so tough with a lung condition and having to stand and walk around the house placing decorations can be equally as difficult for them. Offer to decorate their home to make their surroundings more festive. Make sure you don’t set out anything that could be a trip hazard for them. If they are to be hosting any family event, offer to help set-up and clean-up the event. Never leave this burden on them to accomplish on their own.
11. Be patient- Rushing around not only causes shortness of breath in a person with a lung condition but the stress of it compounds the effect. Do not rush your loved one along. Allow them ample time to get ready to leave by letting them know in advance of departure.
12. Show the love- Give them a hug and let them know you love them. Tell them during the holidays how much they mean to you and what wonderful things make them special. This may seem so obvious especially if they really are your “loved one” but that positivity is so comforting to anyone who struggles to breathe.
13. Let them recharge their batteries- Make time for resting. When a person with a lung condition is over tired it makes it hard for them to manage their normal level of breathlessness. (In short being tired=feeling more short of breath) Adequate sleep and plenty of rest will help them have more energy not only to breathe but to enjoy all the activities they have planned. Mental health breaks are also very helpful for managing the stress of the holidays and calm the body. Allow for some time of peace and quiet away from the crowd.
14. Lend a hand- As I mentioned above (a couple of times) carrying items for a loved one who has a lung condition is so very helpful. If you are traveling, lift their bags in and out of the car. If driving a long distance allow for rest stops to walk around a bit. If taking an airplane avoid the rush and plan for layovers that will allow you to get from gate to another gate in plenty of time.
15. Be the gift- Presents are often overrated… the “presence” of a loved one or a friend can be the greatest gift. There’s no need to find the perfect thing to give them. Many people with a lung condition feel that time spent when they are with their loved ones are the things they will never forget.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with the ones you love the most! <3 Christina
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