I'll admit, I try to avoid the grocery store on senior discount shopping days. I usually run through the store at an efficient, quick pace, and I'd rather not be slowed down. I also want to avoid making anyone feel like they have to move along more quickly just because I'm in a hurry. Seniors often move slower, and they usually have the time to stand in front of the shelves reading ingredients and comparing prices. (They may shop slowly, but at least they shop smartly.)
When I do shop at the same time as seniors, I'm always willing to help by doing things like reaching items they can't reach or reading the small print on packaging. (Although now I have to get my glasses out to do that — a sign that I'm closer to their age than I care to admit.)
Grocery stores aren't set up well for anyone who moves slower, is in a wheelchair, or has some sort of disability that makes the simple act of throwing items into a grocery cart — an action most of us take for granted — more difficult.
One British grocery store has chosen to accommodate senior citizens and people with disabilities by dedicating two hours each week to "slow shopping." Every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a Sainsbury's store in Newcastle has employees who greet people at the door and others who help them with their shopping. They also place chairs at the end of aisles for people who need to stop for a rest, and they offer snacks to these shoppers too.
This, as the British say, is brilliant. The idea was inspired by the daughter of a shopper who had dementia. After her mother passed away, Katherine Vero came up with the idea for the service. "My mum used to love shopping, but as her dementia developed it became increasingly difficult and stressful for us both," Vero said in a statement for the store. "But I didn’t want her to stop going out and become isolated. I wondered if there was a way to help us enjoy shopping."
Shopping is a favorite activity for many people with Alzheimer's according to the U.K.'s Alzheimer's Society. Providing a way for them to continue to shop as long as possible is a great way to serve their population and others who enjoy shopping but find it difficult.
It would be beneficial for American stores to adopt this type of dedicated slow shopping time or at least have a time when there was help available. This could be a useful volunteer opportunity for teens and college students who need to put in service hours for the various organizations that they belong to.