When the holiday parties are over, visitors have left, and festive decorations returned to storage, January can bring about a quiet stillness and clean slate that often inspires one to make reflections upon years past and resolutions for years ahead. Resolutions provide an opportunity to change undesired behaviors, continue good practices, and accomplish goals.
Most resolutions are centered on improving overall health and wellness, with popular resolutions revolving around exercising, self-care, and spending time with family and friends. With a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, it might feel challenging to make and work towards a new year’s resolution and it can cause feelings of powerlessness. While doctors, nurses, and other care providers work to manage the disease, it is important to remember that patients must be their own advocates. Those who take an active role in their own care frequently have better results throughout the disease journey. Take inventory of where you are now and be intentional about where you would like to be when thinking of personal goals for the year. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation has resources that can help you in 2024 and beyond!
If your resolution is to Increase Physical Activity, try the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Toolkit
One of the most damaging consequences of lung disease and its sensation of breathlessness is the development of an inactive lifestyle. Patients with pulmonary fibrosis sometimes limit their physical activities to avoid breathlessness. However, regular exercise can strengthen muscles and make them more resistant to fatigue. One source of exercise that may be beneficial is pulmonary rehabilitation, a structured exercise program designed for people living with chronic lung disease. Pulmonary rehabilitation tends to include exercise training and breathing exercises and may also cover anxiety and stress management among other topics. Pulmonary rehabilitation can take place at hospital outpatient departments. For a virtual option that you can do at home, the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) and the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation have developed free, virtual pulmonary rehabilitation resources, available here.
If your resolution is for Support and Community, join a Support Group
With the diagnosis of a rare and chronic disease, patients and caregivers can feel isolated, confused, and overwhelmed. It’s natural to try to solve problems on your own but connecting with others facing similar experiences can actually improve emotional well-being and have a positive impact on overall health. Support groups provide an opportunity for participants to share experiences, practical information, and resources as well as serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration. Hearing from others facing similar challenges may help you to feel less alone in your troubles. A pulmonary fibrosis support group may fill the gap between medical treatment and the need for emotional support; one’s relationship with their doctor may not provide adequate emotional support but family and friends may not understand the impact of this disease and treatment. A support group among people with shared experiences can fill this void and serve as a safe space for education, support, and even a sense of companionship and community. More information about local, virtual, and PFF-sponsored support groups can be found here
If your resolution is for Self-Care, look into Palliative Care
Patients with pulmonary fibrosis tend to experience breathlessness and cough, especially as their disease progresses. Patients may also feel fatigued, anxious, and depressed and these changes will affect caregivers and loved ones as well. There are options for additional support and symptom management. Palliative care, also referred to as supportive care, is medical care focused on relieving and preventing symptoms that are bothersome or cause discomfort and helps address advance care planning. While treatment is usually symptom focused, palliative care works to treat the whole person. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life. For additional information about palliative care and how to access it, click here.
Whatever the goal may be, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is here for you. For more information and additional resources, please visit our Maintain Your Heath.