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Living with COPD Series


Shopping with COPD

Shopping with COPD can be a relatively manageable task with some planning. Here are some suggestions to help you plan your trip:

  • If you use oxygen, be sure to take it with you. Try to find a shopping cart on your way into the store and place you oxygen carrier in the cart while you shop.
  • Regardless if it is a short trip or a long trip through a store, a cart is an excellent item to use for carrying items, as well as extra support while walking.
  • Check on the availability of a handicap sticker for your vehicle. Use these parking spaces whenever necessary.
  • Try to plan your meals ahead of time and use a grocery list.
  • Use the same grocery store as much as possible. Learn where things are located and plan your shopping accordingly. This helps prevent unnecessary searching and extra steps.
  • Those of us who must shop alone cannot avoid the aisles of laundry and cleaning products. If you know what you want ahead of time and where it is located, it can lessen the amount of time you have to spend there.
  • Some smaller stores, including grocery, drug, etc., provide a delivery service.  Use them if you feel a need.
  • Buy items in plastic containers instead of glass whenever possible. They are lighter to carry.
  • Try to shop on days when stores are less crowded. You will be able to shop at a much easier pace and avoid large crowds, which may make you feel more closed in and short of breath. In addition to the fact that the air in a crowded store may be generally stuffy and unpleasant, you run less of a risk of having people coughing and sneezing all around you.
  • Pick a time of day when you are at your best. Try to avoid times that are difficult for you, especially the heat of midday or freezing winter mornings.
  • Plan your shopping so that you place all your frozen, refrigerated and perishable items in one place in your cart.
  • Unload your items at the checkout the same way. Preferably with all your perishable items first.
  • Whether you have to bag your own groceries or someone does it for you, ask them to place all of your items that need to be put away first in separate bags -- all frozen, refrigerated and perishable items that will go bad or spoil quickly.
  • Ask people bagging your groceries to try to keep your bags a little on the light side. It is much easier for you to carry in when you get home.
  • When you arrive home, it will only be necessary to bring in those items that are perishable first. The rest can wait if you need to rest, especially if you have many steps to climb to access your home. Many items can even remain in your car overnight if need be.
  • If you have to walk a distance when you get home, there are many foldable shopping carts on wheels available on the market to help you.
  • Use the available scooters in stores, especially if walking is extremely difficult for you.
  • If you have a great deal of difficulty going out to shop, perhaps there is a friend, neighbor or relative that would be willing to do it for you. Some senior service agencies and churches will provide these kinds of services on a volunteer-basis. Check in your area for availability of these services.
  • Call ahead for prescription refills and use those with drive-up windows whenever possible. 
  • Many people use mail-order and online pharmacies and find them very helpful and dependable. Much depends on your type of medication insurance as well.
  • Shopping for clothing can be an exhausting experience even for those in the best of health. Know your measurements, write them down on a file card and carry it with you. Keep a small fabric measuring tape with you to check items like slacks and skirts. This can help avoid tiring trips to the dressing rooms.  Know your stores return policy if the item does not fit when you get it home.
  • Shopping online can be a rewarding and easy experience. If you find a particular brand or item that you like and fits well, check for its availability online and use the ease of computer-to-door shopping.
  • Plan your shopping trips well and try not to do a multitude of stops on one outing unless it works for you. Often planning ahead may require a few different days out, but will help eliminate the sense of exhaustion that can accompany long trips out.

Compiled by COPD-International Community Members

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Last modified: August 28, 2002