Mr. Clark is looking forward to a visit from his home health aide. Her name is Ling, and she is a certified nursing assistant. She has been visiting Mr. Clark in his home for a year.
Mr. Clark has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. The disease makes it difficult for Mr. Clark to breathe normally and easily. People can develop different types of COPD. One type of COPD occurs when the alveoli, the small air sacs in the lungs, become damaged and cannot take in and release air very well. Another type of COPD can occur when a person’s lungs and airways become irritated and inflamed from smoking or pollution. When this happens, an excessive amount of mucus is produced in the airways, making them clogged. Mr. Clark quit smoking cigarettes a few years ago, but he developed COPD as a result of many years of smoking.
When Ling visits Mr. Clark, she goes on a short walk with him. Mr. Clark holds his head up and breathes deeply, trying to keep his chest cavity flexible. Sometimes he has to stop to rest and catch his breath, but Ling sits with him on a bench until he feels better. Mr. Clark is on oxygen therapy. He needs the supplemental oxygen that a tank provides, so he rolls his oxygen tank beside him as he walks.
After their walk, Ling checks Mr. Clark’s oxygen level in his blood using a device called a pulse oximeter. She clips the pulse oximeter onto his finger and records his oxygen level. Mr. Clark’s oxygen level is normal today. Ling makes sure that tissues and a trash can are near Mr. Clark’s chair in case he needs to cough and get rid of mucus. Then she fixes him a snack. Mr. Clark eats five small meals or snacks a day instead of three large meals because large meals could make him more tired.
Mr. Clark has learned to manage his COPD with Ling’s help.