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Printed at: 03:09:09 / 20-09-2021

Energy Conservation and Work Simplification

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Definition of Energy Conservation

Energy Conservation is doing an activity in the most efficient way using the least amount of energy to have time and energy left over to spend doing something enjoyable.

Why conserve energy?
• Avoid becoming overtired
• Enables people to do tasks that are important
• Have more energy to spend to complete enjoyable activities

Principles of Energy Conservation
There are 6 main principles of energy conservation:
• Take frequent rests
• Plan ahead
• Eliminate unnecessary jobs
• Organise tools, materials and work area
• Lead a healthy lifestyle
• Adopt a good posture

These principles can be simplified further by remembering prioritisation, planning and pacing.

Rest
• Balance activity and rest
• Rest means doing nothing at all
• Take frequent, short rests
• Rest before becoming tired
• Make a daily or weekly schedule of activities to be done and spread heavy and light tasks out throughout the day
• Try to put the activities in order of priority
• Plan journeys carefully to avoid fatigue
• Try to avoid doing tasks which cannot be stopped at any time should you become tired

Elimination of Unnecessary Jobs

Ask yourself….
• What is the purpose of the task?
• Is it necessary?
• Do I have to do the task? Could someone else do it?
• Can I actually do this?
• Where are you doing the task?
• What equipment do I need?
• What is the most effective way of doing the task?

Organise tools, materials and work area
• Have a special space to do each job
• Try to make the surrounding area amendable to work in; this will make the task more pleasant and less tiring.
• Good lighting is essential to avoid eye strain
• Organise your work area so that it matches your bodily requirements
• Use aids if appropriate
• Be mindful of agencies that can help, e.g. Age UK

Leading a healthy lifestyle
• Try to keep as generally fit as possible with sensible rest, sufficient exercise, and a well-balanced diet.
• Exercise such as Yoga or Tai Chi can be helpful as they focus on good balance, posture and breathing.
• Give up smoking if possible and avoid getting overweight

Adopt a good posture
• Posture is concerned, not only with adopting good positions but with the way in which you move too.
• Activities should be carried out in a relaxed and efficient way, minimising stress on the body and saving energy.

How COPD impacts upon activities of daily living, and solutions

Equipment and Assistive Devices
These can be used to support or enhance your ability to complete activities using the least amount of energy, for example:

  • Long handled bathing and dressing aids may be used to avoid bending and reaching, e.g. sponge, shoehorn, helping hand.
  • Raised toilet seats, toilet frames and bath boards can reduce strain on chest and arms.
  • These devices, further equipment and advice is available from the Community Occupational Therapy Service on 01908 253772.
  • If you are short of breath during or after any activity, the following suggestions may be of help.

These are energy conservation techniques for everyday tasks.

In the bathroom
• Wrap up in a towelling bathrobe after a bath or shower
• Sit down to shave or apply make-up
• Leave bathroom door open if excess humidity makes you breathless
• Plan the time of bathing to suit your lifestyle and energy
• Organise equipment needed and place within easy reach

Getting dressed
• Get clothes out ready the night before
• Avoid tightly fitting clothes
• Wear slip on shoes to avoid bending over, or use a long-handled shoehorn

In the kitchen
• Sit to prepare food
• Cook smaller meals – larger meals can cause fatigue
• On a good day, cook and freeze food for the not so good days
• Use electrical equipment i.e. food processor, blender, electric whisk
• Slide heavy objects along work surface rather than lift

In the garden
• Use long handled tools
• Have a seat in the garden
• Have help for difficult tasks

Going out
• Choose a good time of day for you –this may be after your medication
• Make sure you have your inhaler with you
• Make the most of your opportunities to go out, but avoid smoky atmospheres
• Window shopping is a good way to catch your breath
• Shopping centres are a good place to walk as they are flat and air conditioned

In the bedroom
• A continental quilt is easier and lighter to pull up than blankets
• Have your medication available
• Having breathing difficulties can upset any relationship for a while and this includes sex. If this is important to you, don’t write it off. It is likely that you can function better than you believe. Discuss it with your partner. You can show affection by hugging, kissing and touching.

Meal preparation
• Use good lighting and ventilation in the cooking area
• Use electrical equipment rather than manual where possible
• A microwave oven may cut down on cooking and cleaning up time
• Slide heavy items along the worktop rather than lifting them
• Use a damp dishcloth to hold items in place whilst working
• Line baking pans with foil to minimise cleaning
• Soak pots and pans to avoid scrubbing
• Sit or perch whilst preparing food, and select foods that require minimal preparation
• Prepare double recipes and freeze half for another day

Shopping
• Plan menus and take a shopping list with you
• Consider the weight of your shopping, assistance such as transport or wheelchairs may be needed
• Some stores will deliver goods, consider mail order or internet shopping

Laundry
• Wash one or two loads frequently rather than multiple loads once a week
• Collect clothes in one place and transfer to the laundry area on a trolley if possible
• A washing line should be hung at shoulder height
• Place the washing basket on a chair whilst hanging laundry
• Sit or perch whilst ironing
• Consider using a tumble dryer