Most people take shopping for granted. For many, it’s a pleasurable experience. But for seniors, shopping can involve a few risks.
Staying safe while shopping with seniors isn’t rocket science, but it does require a little thought and planning. Malls and large stores contain many hazards, many of which pose a risk to less mobile seniors.
But if you plan your trip and take a few precautions, there’s no reason why shopping with a senior shouldn’t be enjoyable and productive.
1. Make a List
Making a list ensures seniors don’t forget important purchases. And by ticking off each purchase as it’s made, there’s less chance of buying the same product twice.
But there’s a more important reason for creating a list — it helps you to plan your route effectively. You can avoid roads, uneven sidewalks, and various hazards. And if you create a logical route, you can minimize travel and the physical effort it involves.
2. Choose Accessible Stores
Whether the senior you’re supervising is walking unaided or in a wheelchair, accessibility is very important. Narrow aisles, tight turns, and stairs increase the risk of trips, slips, and falls.
Once you’ve created a list and a potential route, check that the stores you’re planning to visit offer wide aisles, easy access, and aids such as elevators and escalators.
If you’re unsure about a store’s accessibility, contact the management for answers. Better still, visit the store in advance to assess the premises for yourself.
3. Shop When it’s Quiet
Shopping during busy periods can be very stressful for seniors. Not only that, negotiating crowded retail environments increases the risk of accidents. This is why choosing when you shop with a senior is very important.
Try to avoid big sale events such as Black Friday. Supermarkets, for example, tend to be less busy on Wednesdays. But this isn’t always the case. Assess your local mall or store in advance, and choose a time of the week that’s relatively quiet.
4. Shop During Daylight Hours
Some of the artificial lighting in stores is good, but it’s never as good as daylight. To minimize the risk of slips, trips, and falls, shop with seniors during daylight hours.
Choose parking lots with lots of natural light, and stick to designated walkways as you make your way inside the store or mall.
5. Find a Good Parking Spot in Advance
If you’re traveling by car, it’s a good idea to park as near to the stores you’re visiting as possible. This might require a little research and forward planning on your part.
Call ahead, and ask store and mall managers about priority parking for seniors and people with mobility issues. More often than not, there’s dedicated parking for these customers that’s within just a few yards of an entrance.
6. Decide on a Meeting Spot
Shopping in busy stores and malls sometimes results in people being separated from their party. And when this happens to seniors, the experience can be overwhelming and potentially dangerous.
It’s always best to plan for the worst-case scenario. What is the plan if you and the senior citizen you’re accompanying lose one another? Before you head out, agree on a meeting place. So if you become separated, you both know where the other person will be.
7. Take Your Phones
Anything can happen during a shopping trip to a busy mall. That’s why it’s always a good idea for everyone involved to take a fully charged cell phone. Make sure you program your phone number into the senior citizen’s device. And to avoid confusion, set up a fast-dial number and show them how to use it.
8. Take Your Time
You should never rush shopping trips with seniors, as this is a sure-fire way to cause an accident. Seniors with balance and mobility issues get tired very quickly, and tiredness increases the risk of falling considerably.
9. Make Friends
Many hands make light work, as they say. Enlist the help of store staff, and your shopping trips with seniors should become a lot easier. Friendly retail workers will help you find products, navigate stores, and pack your purchases.
A friendly face is a comforting sight for nervous seniors in busy shopping environments. Encourage the seniors you accompany to make conversation at every opportunity. This doesn’t just provide practical benefits — it also makes the experience a lot more fun.
10. Get it Delivered
Try to avoid carrying heavy bags through busy streets and shopping malls. Prioritize stores that offer delivery services. You still get the enjoyment of wandering around the store and browsing, but you avoid the unpleasant and potentially hazardous job of carrying your purchases back to your vehicle.
Tip: Ask a manager if the store offers a packing service. Some retail outlets will pack your shopping and carry it to your vehicle at a time you request.
11. Plan Lots of Breaks
Shopping can be a strenuous experience for a young person, so don’t underestimate the physical toll it can take on seniors. Schedule regular coffee and food breaks throughout the day. And make sure the distance you have to walk between breaks is kept to a minimum.
Shopping with seniors should be an enjoyable and safe experience. And with a little thought and forward-thinking, it can be.