When you’ve been hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it can be hard to get your life back on track. It is likely that you are coming home with new medications, a new daily routine, and possibly even some new restrictions. While being hospitalized is not something anyone wants or expects, it can have many positive effects on your health in the long run. However, in the short term, it might be difficult to adjust after being away from home and your usual routines for several days. If you have just been released from the hospital following a stay due to COPD complications, there are things you can do at home that will help make readjusting easier. Here are 8 things you can do for yourself the day after you’ve been hospitalized for COPD:
Plan your meals for the next few days
When you come home from the hospital, you will likely be prescribed medications to help you manage your symptoms and may also have a dietician’s recommendations for foods to eat or avoid. Managing your diet is one of the best ways to control your COPD symptoms and avoid future hospitalization. In order to maintain control over your meals while you are adjusting to a new diet, it can be helpful to plan out your next few days’ worth of meals. Use this time to try out the new foods recommended by your dietician, and you can also ease back into your normal diet by slowly adding in your normal foods. If you feel like you are having trouble managing your diet due to the new restrictions, it can also be helpful to ask a family member or friend to help you keep track of your meals. Having someone else there can make it easier to follow your new diet and avoid foods that may cause your symptoms to flare.
Take a shower and wash your hair
Your health care team will likely want you to wait for a few days before showering, since this can be a risk to your healing wounds and can cause infections. However, once you have been released from the hospital, it is important to get back into regular routines as soon as possible. For many people with COPD, showering is a daily routine that is essential for their health. It can be helpful to wait until you have regained your strength and are no longer feeling fatigued before showering for the first time after being hospitalized for COPD, but even waiting a day or two can make a huge difference in easing your transition home. Having regular, healthy hair is one of the best ways to avoid infections, which are common among people with lung diseases.
Do gentle stretches and breathing exercises
You can do breathing exercises as soon as you feel up to it, but it is best to wait until your body is completely healed before doing more vigorous stretching. Doing these exercises is one of the best ways to manage your COPD symptoms, both during periods of active flare-ups and when living with the disease long-term. When you are first released from the hospital, it is important to take it easy and avoid overdoing it. However, waiting a few days before doing these exercises will give your body time to rest and heal.
Talk with your doctor about the medications you’ve been prescribed
You will likely be prescribed new medications following your stay in the hospital. These are often helpful both for managing your current symptoms and for preventing future flare-ups. However, it is important to be aware of side effects, drug interactions, and other considerations related to taking these new medications. Make sure you talk with your doctor about these new medications and any changes you should be aware of, such as taking a lower dose or waiting longer between doses.
Ask caregivers to help you get organized
Being hospitalized often leads to changes in your daily routines, and it is important to find ways to adjust to these changes as soon as possible. For example, if you need help managing your medications, it can be helpful to get a medication organizer so you know exactly when and how to take your medications. Though it might seem like an unnecessary expense, it can make managing your medications much easier. If you are having trouble adjusting to your new daily routines due to changes from the hospital stay, it can be helpful to ask your caregivers for help with getting organized. They can help you get back on track with daily tasks, such as showering, managing your medications, and keeping track of your diet.
Help your caregivers understand what you will need from them when they assist you
It can be difficult for caregivers to adjust to new routines, whether this is due to your hospital stay or changes in your daily routine from aging. It can also be difficult for caregivers to know how to best assist you while you are adjusting to new medications or a new diet. Try to be as clear as possible about what you need from your caregivers. This can help them better assist you and ease any frustration they might be feeling.
Get plenty of rest
After a hospitalization, it is important to get plenty of rest. While you might be eager to get back to daily routines and regain control over your life, it is important to take it easy so that your body can heal. Resting will not only help your body heal from the surgery, but it will also allow you to slowly adjust to new medications and a new diet. If you are feeling tired, it is important to take breaks throughout the day and rest as much as you can. By following these steps, you can ease your transition back into daily life after being hospitalized for COPD. Though it can be challenging, it is important to remember that recovery is a process, and it will take time.