Although older adults are living longer thanks to medical advances, better access to nutritious food and increased awareness about lifestyle choices and longevity, many seniors struggle with social isolation and loneliness. And with so many of life’s daily tasks like banking or shopping becoming automated, older adults can sometimes go days without talking to another person. That’s why a Dutch supermarket in Vlijmen has launched a coffee corner and “chat checkout” for customers who could benefit from more social interaction.
According to a recent BrightVibes report, about half of adults over the age of 55 experience loneliness. By implementing a special checkout for customers who enjoy a little chat as they ring up their purchases and aren’t in a hurry, the Jumbo Supermarket helps connect older adults with their community. The retailer has also created the “All Together Coffee Corner” where elderly people can get together with others, including volunteers who are available for conversation or help with shopping or small tasks like gardening.
While so many grocery stores are adding self-service checkouts, innovations like the “chat checkout” are a positive trend that takes the needs of a growing elderly population into account. For seniors who live alone, their shopping trips can be one of few opportunities for social interaction which is so essential for overall health and well-being.
According to the McMaster University Optimal Aging Portal Blog, older adults are at increased risk of being socially isolated or lonely. By the time most seniors reach the age of 80 they will be living on their own due to the death of a spouse, especially older women who tend to live longer than men. And when adult children move away, or seniors are less mobile as a result of health problems, many report feeling lonely. Caregivers can help seniors stay socially connected by making arrangements for transportation, researching programs at community centers or creating opportunities for companionship through volunteering.