Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) presents some challenges. While receiving support from family and friends is helpful, COPD support groups can offer additional benefits.
A person may access a support group online or, depending on their location, attend in-person meetings. There are also groups that address the specific needs of caregivers.
This article discusses online and local COPD support groups, as well as organizations for caregivers.
Online groups provide people with the support they need without leaving their homes. Even those who live in remote, rural locations can access such groups online. Below are some communities to consider joining.
Living with COPD Community
The Living with COPD Community is a partner of the American Lung Association (ALA). It offers peer-to-peer support through sharing information and personal stories, which enables members to learn from the experiences of others.
When browsing through the forum, members can apply filters to access material relating to their particular interests quickly. These filters include:
- treatments and side effects
- living with COPD
- information for newly diagnosed people
- family, friends, and caregivers
Better Breathers Network
The Better Breathers Network is another ALA program offering an online and in-person support system. The online system is the Better Breathers Network. Members can access educational materials via an online resource library, which provides tip sheets and helpful videos.
Members of Better Breathers can also receive emotional support via regular virtual meetings, allowing them to connect with others with COPD.
COPD360Social is the COPD Foundation’s online community, which includes more than 51,000 people. Its members may:
- ask questions
- start discussions
- communicate with thought leaders
- share ideas
- receive the latest COPD news
- participate in research
- learn about events in their area
Freedom from Smoking
As smoking is the biggest risk factor for COPD, the ALA offers Freedom from Smoking, a comprehensive program to help people quit. The support includes an online community for conversing with peers, along with the opportunity to talk with specialists with the Lung Helpline.
My COPD Team
My COPD Team is a social network that provides various types of support. Members can receive practical advice on treatment, develop friendships, and share the daily ups and downs of living with COPD. They can also find people in their area who are of a similar age with the same condition.
Some Facebook groups allow people to talk with individuals who can understand the challenges of COPD. Some examples of these COPD groups include:
- COPD Friends for Friends
- COPD/Emphysema Group Discussions and Support Group
- COPD Warriors
- Let’s Talk COPD
In-person support groups offer the additional benefit of face-to-face interactions. However, they are not available in every community. Below are some examples.
Better Breathers Club
In addition to the online community, members of the Better Breathers Club can attend in-person meetings if they live in certain areas. Trained facilitators lead the sessions, which offer people the tools they need to help them maximize their quality of life. The meetings involve:
- guest speakers
- social activities
- problem-solving information
Other local support groups
A person’s healthcare team is a good resource for finding other local support groups. Smaller groups may not have websites, so word of mouth can help with finding them. Medical professionals also know the challenges of COPD and may be able to pass on information about groups with links to local medical centers or hospitals.
For friends or family who take care of someone with COPD, it is also important to look after mental health. Caregiving can be physically and emotionally taxing, even when someone is passionate about doing it.
Support groups can give caregivers a place to talk about their experiences. There are also some that provide practical help, such as the below.
Family Caregiver Alliance
The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers a comprehensive source of information on caregiving topics. It enables a person to find services in their state that could help their loved one with COPD. FCA gives caregivers the tools they require to manage their complex challenges.
Caregiver.com is an online support system that helps someone locate resources, products, services, and support groups. The information includes expert answers to the problems they face.
Lotsa Helping Hands
Lotsa Helping Hands (LHH) offers a way of acquiring practical help. To receive assistance, caregivers first provide a list of family members and friends who comprise their “community.” They then post a request, such as a need for people to commit to giving rides to medical appointments.
Afterward, LHH sends the request to all the community members, and any of them may volunteer to meet the request.
COPD support groups can help people with the condition learn about treatments and the latest research, as well as share ideas and develop friendships.
In-person groups are also available in certain communities. To find one, people can ask their doctor about them or check to see if Better Breathers Clubs operate in their area.
If someone does not live close to an in-person group, they can find similar support by joining an online group. Some options include Living with COPD Community, the Better Breathers Network, and COPD360Social.
Additionally, caregivers can benefit from support groups that address their particular needs. Two examples are Lotsa Helping Hands and the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Whether an individual has COPD or they are a caregiver for a person with the condition, support groups can make an important difference.