6 Tips for Dealing with Friends and Family Who Don't Understand Your COPD




Unlike common illnesses such as fever, hypertension, or diabetes, some unusual chronic conditions aren’t always easy to understand, especially for those around you. And this includes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

A lot of people are clueless about what your illness might be like. Most of the time, you’ll get that bizarre look or probing questions from your friends (and even your family) about COPD. Sometimes you’d feel like they have totally changed their perception of you because you have COPD. It’s quite common as well to get feelings of sadness, being ignored, secluded, or basically just misunderstood, all because of your condition. Many COPD patients may also have to deal with significant others who cannot fully comprehend what this chronic lung problem is.

What you can do is be the one to help them understand. Bridge the gap and do your best to be patient with them at the start. Eventually, they’ll get to understand and won’t be indifferent to your condition.

1. Know your facts

Arm yourself with knowledge. For sure your doctor will educate you about your condition, but don’t just confine yourself to the basic facts. Know more about your condition by reading through official health organization’s websites. Check out patient materials available at your doctor’s clinic, do your research and join COPD forums. All of this will help you get to know more about COPD. This should not only help you explain things to your significant others but also help you understand your condition better.

2. Break the news the right way at the right time

If it’s your first time to tell your family and friends about your condition, when, how and where to tell them is very important. Avoid being hysteric when telling them about your COPD. Sit them down and tell them the facts you know about your health. Tailor your message to the person you’re talking to. Encourage them to ask questions and try to clear any misunderstandings. This way, you’ll avoid any misconceptions about your condition.

3. Stick to important details

Try to be specific about COPD: what it is, its symptoms, treatment and prognosis. Avoid being too verbose by adding unnecessary details. Giving direct specific details helps them understand your condition much easier. You can add more confusion if you add in too many unnecessary details, like talking about possible complications and using medical jargon.

4. Describe how you feel

Letting them know about how you feel on a daily basis, like when you get up in the morning, how you easily get tired performing tasks, and how you frequently get breathless will allow them a clearer perspective of what you’re going through. Explain that these are all effects of the lack of oxygen in your lungs. This will also make them understand what changes to expect from you and what they can help you with.

5. Show them your medications and any equipment you’re using

Some people get to understand better if they see what you need to take for your condition. Show them your inhalers, your oxygen concentrator, and describe how they work. This way, they’ll also get to know what to do if ever you need any of these medications.

6. Invite them to a medical appointment or support group meeting

Perhaps the best way to clear their minds of uncertainties is to bring them along with you on your next medical appointment or support group meeting. This way, they’ll have a deeper understanding about COPD. They’ll be able to meet other people with the same condition and possibly even learn more from them and their loved ones. They’ll be able to see the frustrations and troubles you are likely facing in your life.

Gaining as much emotional support from your significant others is essential to your well-being. Allowing them understand your condition by giving them the right information and describing your condition from your perspective can greatly help!

Have you tried dealing with family and friends who didn’t understand your COPD? Share your experiences in the comments below!