“Slow Shopping” Benefits Seniors

In a fast-paced world, busy adults may enjoy the speed and convenience of self-checkout lanes at the grocery store.  But elderly adults, especially those with physical or cognitive challenges, may benefit from a slower paced and less congested shopping experience; one grocery chain in England has set out to provide an opportunity for older adults to purchase their weekly essentials with a little extra help and consideration.

The program “Slow Shopping” was recently introduced by the UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s.  The retailer has established set hours each week to help older customers and people with disabilities shop in a less busy environment with extra staff available to help find products or grab hard-to-reach items.  The store also supplies chairs for shoppers who may need to take a rest and plenty of samples to taste. 

Slow shopping also benefits caregivers who will be able to take their loved-one out in a more supportive environment where staff have received disability awareness training.  For many elderly adults, weekly grocery shopping is one of the few opportunities they may have for social interaction but during busy hours, when everyone is in a rush, the outing can become stressful instead of a pleasant experience.   A dementia-friendly store helps seniors and caregivers connect with their community and lower the risk of becoming socially isolated.

As the worldwide population ages, more communities are making an effort to create opportunities for older adults to be included and feel valued.  In Japan, many convenience stores also provide hot meals, tailored to older adults, that seniors can pick up along with other household supplies.

While there are many ways older adults can have food and other supplies delivered to them at home, doing a weekly grocery shop at a slower pace can have unexpected benefits.  Just getting dressed and ready to venture out can lift the spirits and help seniors stay physically active.  And planning a shopping list and meals based on seasonal produce can bring back happy family memories, creating opportunities for conversation and a greater interest in preparing nutritious meals.  Regular outings can help to provide seniors with a better quality of life and preserve their independence longer.