Medications including a pill bottle, an inhaler, bandaids, and a thermometer arranged on a table

Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year again when the days are getting longer and the sun is shining brighter. As I raise the blinds attempting to open the windows and doors, I become aware of the dust left over from the long cold months of winter. It's spring cleaning time again.

Cleaning with COPD

A good first step to spring cleaning is cleaning my medicine chest.  Before I begin any task, I try to remember that with COPD I only have a limited amount of energy, so I need to break my tasks into small chunks. Before I dig in, I think about what the logistics of the job will be. And, above all I pace myself and my tasks throughout this process and mindfully use pursed lip breathing. I use walls to lean on or sit in a chair if I become short of breath.

I begin by gathering all my medications and put them in one place. Taking a few trips around the house so I won't forget the refrigerator and those bedroom and bathroom drawers. I bringing all my drugs together, keeping them in their original bottles. The kitchen table works great for this project because I can easily organize and sort everything into sections and types.

I sort all medications by type

I sort the medicine by type. Include all daily meds, cough meds, wart remover, vitamins, supplements and any other over-the-counter (OTC) medications. My First Aid kit is included so it can be freshened up and replenished with new Band-Aids.

Checking for expiry dates on all packages and bottles is an easy way to begin the sort. Most puffers have an expiry date on the bottle or tube. Check carefully because manufacturers get crafty with how the date is presented but remember that expired meds may be harmful at worse and useless at best. Once you start checking dates you will be surprised at how outdated they are.

For pharmacy or prescription medications, check on Google against the date the prescription was dispensed or call the pharmacist to check for sure.

All medications that are expired need to be disposed of in a responsible manner. That means that they should be returned to the drug store, where they will follow proper procedures on disposal. There should be no charge to you for this service. Any sharps should be kept in a proper plastic container made for this purpose and disposed of at the drug store as well.

Consider where you will put your new medicine cabinet keeping in mind small children and animals could help themselves to the contents and that it still has to be within your reach.

Organizing COPD medications

Check out your local Dollar Store for bins, containers and bathroom organizers that will help you keep like meds together. Make the size manageable and pick some that have lids. Make sure the lids are tight enough to not pop off. Keep in mind what you are storing when you are purchasing.

You may consider purchasing a daily/weekly Doucette for making daily management of meds a little easier. My drug store makes mine and delivers it on a weekly basis.

Organize like meds with like meds, ointments, prescriptions, OTC and medications for animals and pets. Keep your medications out of the reach of children.

Create a First Aid Kit using any container that has a tight lid on it. Include fresh bandages, ointments, gauze, a thermometer, heating pad, insect bite remedies.

Now that you have completed this task, know that it was a huge job and you should be proud of yourself for completing it, instead of dwelling on how long it took to accomplish it.

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