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My father has COPD and he is very tired and depressed. My mother suffers from anxiety as a result of his depression. What can I do to help my father?


Question: My father has COPD as well as numerous other health afflictions. It has been similar to watching a clock wind down for over 15 years.  He is very tired and depressed. How does one support someone who has very limited mobility and very little to look forward to in a day? His moodiness is affecting my mother who is suffering from anxiety as a result of his depression. 

Dr. Amy:  Adjusting to life with COPD can be difficult and frustrating. This is particularly true for people who are used to being active. Depression is not at all uncommon among people with COPD. I encourage your father and mother to visit his doctor and discuss what steps they can take—including pulmonary rehabilitation—to lighten his mood. Once his depression is under control, he will be more inclined to join in social activities and be as active as possible. And this will also make him feel even better. You can help your father and mother by: 

  • Being an advocate for them as they navigate the health care system to find the right medical treatment
  • Helping your father develop new hobbies and interests that are in line with his physical abilities
  • Helping your father feel more comfortable with the fact that he needs your help.

Many people find it difficult to accept even small acts of service. It may help if your father can see that he is giving you and your mother the gift of caregiving. Does that sound strange? Before his health started to fail, your father likely took care of himself, the family, and others. His helping others and providing for you made him feel good. While he is now more limited in what he can do, he can positively make it his purpose to help others feel good about themselves by giving them the gift of caring for another person—himself— and by showing appreciation for all that you do.

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