Safer Shopping for Seniors

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Bustling crowds during coronavirus-fueled panic shopping may have presented an annoyance to some shoppers. But for an older adult with balance issues, going to stores during a time like this can increase the risk of falling and a subsequent broken bone.

Of course, during the pandemic, it’s important to follow health and safety protocols about going places in public; however, in general, a few strategies for shopping can make it safer to reduce the risk of falling for older adults.

Physician David Heisig, medical director at PACE in Syracuse, recommended shopping at less busy times, such as during working hours on weekdays. His theory of shopping times is supported by InMarket, a company that analyzes retail shopping patterns. InMarket states that grocery stores are least busy before 8 a.m. Once it’s noon, the store likely will stay busy until 7 p.m. As a plus, the store will likely be its cleanest and best-stocked early in the morning.

As Heisig alluded, weekends, especially Saturday morning and early afternoon on Sunday (the post-church crowd) are very busy times, as are the day before a holiday or food-oriented event, such as the Super Bowl.

Shopping on weekdays — especially during morning working hours — is a much better bet for experiencing thinner crowds.

Heisig said that people with balance issues should speak with their care provider about a cane, walker or wheelchair. These items may not be needed all the time, but may provide more safety while in crowded areas.

“If they do well but have issues with distance, most grocery stores have motorized carts,” Heisig said.

If possible, bringing along the cane in the cart can help if the shopper needs to step away from the cart.

Heisig recommends writing a list before shopping. By planning the route through the store, shoppers can make the trip easier by reducing the need to backtrack to a different department.

Reducing the number of trips to the store or the length of the trips can reduce risk of falls.

“Take advantage of online shopping and catalog shopping,” Heisig said. “If you’re not computer savvy or are concerned, there’s usually someone in the family, a friend or someone in social services so you don’t get into a malicious website. We’re evolving into a society where we expect things to be delivered.”

Amazon Prime Pantry, for example, can deliver shelf-stable goods free with orders of $35 or more. That can whittle down the shopping list to fewer items.

Or, shop with a store such as Wegmans, Tops and Price Chopper, which offer curbside pick-up or delivery through the Instacart app. This includes a store’s perishable goods, too.

Heisig said that those with balance issues and concerns about stability should ask for help.

“Church groups will help in many cases or service groups,” he said. “If you call the administration, they’ll find a volunteer who will be thrilled to help you by driving you there and help you or take your list and do it for you. There’s a variety of options.”

Many people want to help but don’t realize that others need help or what kind of help they should offer. Heisig said that it’s about “sitting down with a younger friend or family member and being very honest and saying, ‘I feel concerned doing this. This is why. Let’s figure out a plan to get around this and figure out solutions.’ Explain to people what you need and give them a heads-up on how to give a hand.”

Putting items in the cart and on the check-out stand may be fine except for a large bag of cat food, for example, or loading the items in and out of the trunk may be challenging.

Once home, it’s okay to focus on putting away the perishable items and just leave the other items for later if fatigue is an issue.


Best Time to Grocery

Shopping

Grocery stores are least busy before 8 a.m., according to InMarket, a company that analyzes retail shopping patterns. Once it’s noon, the store likely will stay busy until 7 p.m. As a plus, the store will likely be its cleanest and best-stocked early in the morning. Weekends, especially Saturday morning and early afternoon on Sunday (the post-church crowd) are very busy times, as are the day before a holiday or food-oriented event, such as the Super Bowl.

Shopping on weekdays — especially during morning working hours — is a much better bet for experiencing thinner crowds.

Tips for Safe Grocery

Shopping

You’re in lockdown, yet you still have to go grocery shopping, but how do you stay safe and avoid catching the coronavirus?

The American Medical Association has some timely tips.

When you go to the store:

• Stay at least six feet away from other shoppers.

• Don’t shake hands, hug or have any physical contact.

• Wipe down grocery carts or basket handles with disinfectant wipes if you have them.

• Don’t touch your face.

• Wear a cloth face mask.

• While waiting and after leaving the store, use hand sanitizer if you have it.

• If you’re sick, don’t go shopping. But if you must, wear a mask, wash your hands often and keep a safe distance between you and others.

When you get your groceries home:

• Although it’s unlikely you’ll be exposed to the virus from the items in your shopping bag, wash your hands after unpacking your groceries.

• Wipe surfaces with a household disinfectant.

Take precautions when preparing food:

• Wash your hands before eating.

• Do not share plates or silverware with others.

• Rinse fruits and vegetables before eating them.

If you’re 65 or older:

• Ask a neighbor or friend to pick up groceries and leave them outside your house or bring them in while keeping at least six feet apart.

• Check with your local market and go during store hours reserved for older shoppers.

• See if your grocer delivers and shop online.

These tips were published online recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Please follow and like us: