Going shopping is essential, but there are many things you can do if you have COPD to make this less strenuous.
Don't shop till you drop. Phone around first to find out whether the items you are looking for are indeed available at specific shops. Don't wander aimlessly in search of something – it will exhaust you unnecessarily.
Avoid rush hours. Friday and Saturday are not good shopping days, as many people who work can only go shopping then. If at all possible, shop early in the morning in the middle of the week when it should be quiet.
Become a basket case. Only joking. But jokes aside, a shopping basket on wheels is a very good idea. It prevents you having to carry heavy groceries around and minimises the effort of a shopping expedition.
Disabled disc. Whether you are having difficulty walking long distances, because you're on crutches, or because you are having difficulty breathing, makes no difference. You should qualify to get a disabled disc. These will enable you to park really close to shopping centre entrances.
Smoke-free zones. All shopping centres should be smoke-free. If you see anyone smoking, feel free to report them to centre security.
Dress for success. Shopping for clothing can be exhausting even to people in perfect health. Carry your measurements and a measuring tape with you – if you see something you like, measure it first to see if it will fit, rather than going through the whole exhausting process of fitting on new clothes. You can also do you shopping using catalogues – then you will not even have to leave the house.
Freezer frenzy. Have all the frozen foods packed separately, so that if you are really tired when you get home, you can just put the whole bag into the freezer and sort out everything else later. The same goes for refrigerated goods.
Wash those hands. It is always a good idea to wash your hands properly after you have been to a public place. Most germs get spread around by touching things (such as shopping trolleys and lift buttons) that have been touched by people with viral infections.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated December 2008)
Visit the SA Thoracic Society for more information.