Decluttering Your Home Safely When You Have a Lung Condition

Decluttering Your Home Safely When You Have a Lung Condition

For some people, holding on to things is like holding on to memories. The more things in our home, however, the more space for dust to gather and the more surfaces we have to clean. A messy, cluttered home provides plenty of hiding spaces for pests like cockroaches and other insects that are not good for anyone, especially people with chronic lung conditions. Decluttering is a great way to remove trip hazards, get rid of things that you don’t use, and organize the things that you have. Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, churches, and clothing drops are great locations for you to donate any usable items.

Things to remember to declutter safely

Protect your lungs from dust and other triggers.

Most of us have masks that we put on during the pandemic. I would recommend wearing a light-weight mask if you are decluttering a space that is dusty or may have other triggers, like small fibers or mildew, that could cause you to be short of breath.

Have a place where you can sit and rest.

Standing for prolonged periods, bending over, and/or using your arms to lift causes many of my patients to be breathless. Have a place to sit so that you can take breaks from time to time. Powering through is not the way anyone with a lung condition should approach activity. Powering through will cause you to have increased shortness of breath and will ultimately deplete your energy stores faster. Taking breaks to rest will help you conserve your energy and think through the process so that you don’t have regrets later.

Use your rescue inhaler prior to beginning.

Especially if there is a likelihood that you may become breathless either with the activity or exposure to any dust. Wear your oxygen as prescribed. If it is ordered “with exertion” and you plan to be standing or moving for a prolonged period… wear it.

Start with a small space.

Decluttering or purging items that you don’t need can be done over time. There is no need to rush the process but, if you are anything like me, you don’t want a wreck in your living space to deal with. Don’t begin by tackling large spaces. Start with small spaces, like one section of a closet, a bookshelf, or a dresser drawer. Remember that decluttering and organization is a process. It will take some time and if you “bite off more than you can chew,” you will get overwhelmed and want to stop the entire process. When I started this process, I literally began with just my pajama drawer. You wouldn’t believe how many old pj’s I had crammed in that one drawer! I had pajamas that I wore in college in that drawer! (Did I mention that college for me was almost 2O years and three babies ago?!) I didn’t need 30-40 pajamas. I couldn’t wear 30-40 pajamas. Heck, I hated even opening that drawer. So, I thinned, and now I probably still have way more pajamas than I truly need, but I can open that drawer without “stuffing it shut.”

Pick a method or have a plan.

I use the “Marie Kondo method.” Essentially, I take it all out, decide what I can’t live without, then I pick and choose from the rest by deciding what goes and what stays. There is much more to Marie’s method, but her process works the best for me. She wrote a book that I love called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book offers so many great ideas for tidying up different spaces. I really enjoyed it and use some of the advice (like Marie’s folding technique for my dresser) each day. My friends at Happy DIY Home have an awesome checklist if you want to get started right away. Use whatever strategy works for you! I, myself, tend to get overwhelmed just looking at a space and not knowing where to start without a plan.

Declutter at a time of day that you have the most energy.

There’s no doubt that thinning out and purging items that you have had for years can be exhausting. It is draining to your energy levels standing and moving things about. Tackle the task of decluttering when you have the energy to do so. Don’t start late in the day or if you are recovering from being ill.

When moving things around your home, use a rolling cart or bin.

Many of you are managing supplemental oxygen along with your breathlessness as well. Instead of carrying items, try using a rolling cart when taking things to another room or out to your car. You don’t want to risk tripping over oxygen tubing or obstructing your view as you move items to different locations. You can also store this cart in the trunk of your car (it collapses down) and use it to bring in groceries.

Phone a friend or loved one.

Have a friend or loved one carry out or perhaps take the items to a drop off location for you. This may take some preplanning, especially with COVID still going on, but this will save energy (and breathlessness) from lifting and carrying loads out to your vehicle. If you have to drop the items off on your own, call ahead to the location that you will be going and see if there is someone there that can assist you in carrying the items in. This “preplanning call” is a lifesaver. The place where you are dropping off will be ready for you to arrive and the stress of not knowing if you can get help will be alleviated.

If financially feasible, consider hiring help.

The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) is an organization designed to help moving seniors and those that are chronically ill with moving or decluttering and organization. Their NASMM@HOME program can “help you adapt your home for who you are now. Downsize. Simplify. Stay at Home.” The NASMM can accredit different companies that meet their criteria to work specifically with the elderly and those that are chronically ill. Through their website, you can search to see if there are accredited companies in your area that have the expertise to help you declutter.

What other tips do you have to declutter and organize your home? Share with our readers by commenting on my Facebook page.

Thanks for reading, and Stay Well! Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!


About the author: Christina Hunt is a registered respiratory therapist and blogger who has been working in the field of respiratory care for the last 19 years. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in Human Foods, Nutrition, and Exercise in 2001. For the last 10 years, Christina has worked in pulmonary rehab and in 2018 developed a blog called Christina is passionate about helping people with chronic lung conditions live happier, healthier lives. She volunteers her time as the Virginia state captain of the COPD Foundation and serves as a board member for Breath Matters Support Group of Virginia.