Remember when you were young and you’d accompany your mother, father, or caretaker to the grocery store?
I certainly do. I was so proud that she entrusted me with going to get two gallons of milk while she was picking produce. In reality, she probably just wanted a few moments so she could focus on getting the best vegetables for dinner. Of course, with my little brother in tow right behind me and my baby sister sitting in the grocery cart, it wasn’t like she could focus entirely on any one thing long. The grocery store was a family event that happened every week.
There was always a lot of discussion about what to eat for the upcoming week and what products to buy. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that the cereal aisle is where many youngsters start to hone in on their negotiation skills (for me, it was trying to convince my mom that we should get Franken Berry). Aside from the intra-family discussion, it seemed like we always ran into somebody we knew. Most of the time it was a “grown-up” that my mom knew that she would spend a few moments talking with. All in all, the grocery store is much more of a social activity than we give it credit for.
Grocery shopping as a family
When you have a new family, going to the grocery store with the kids can also be an exhausting task. Once you reach the age where you do not have to manage your kids at the store, grocery shopping becomes a lot easier. It gets even better when you are retired and just shopping for two. You have much more time and can really appreciate picking out the best produce.
As you age, however, the physical aspect of shopping starts to become burdensome. It will become as exhausting as it was when you had a new family.
Let’s dissect the physical aspects of grocery shopping when you are elderly
- Getting ready to leave the house: for ladies especially, this can be quite a task in and of itself
- Driving to the store: includes getting in and out of the car and walking across the parking lot
- Shopping: walking, pushing the cart, reaching, lifting
- Driving home: walking across the parking lot again and getting in the car (hopefully with some help from the baggers putting the groceries in the car)
- Unloading: taking the groceries from the car to the kitchen counter, then from the counter into the pantry/refrigerator
An important aspect of our social fabric
Even though grocery shopping can be physically demanding for the elderly, being prematurely robbed of going to the grocery store is probably one of the worst things that can happen. The grocery store is such an important aspect of our social fabric. It is communal, it is physical, and it is a necessary task.
Find a helper
With just a little bit of help from someone designated as a grocery shopping helper, a senior can reap all the benefits of grocery shopping for much longer than they would without help. At some point it may be necessary to have someone go grocery shopping for the senior. However, it is better to have someone to go with the senior initially. A huge side benefit of having help is that the senior will likely start to plan out more nutritious meals rather than picking out pre-packaged foods out of convenience.
When you look at the social, physical, and nutritious benefits of having a grocery shopping helper, it is a no-brainer. It is one of the best and most proactive things one can do to ensure successful aging in place.