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3 Ways To De-Stress Holiday Shopping With Older Adults

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many seniors got into shopping and buying online—for anything from groceries to clothing. Now that they’ve been vaccinated and gotten their boosters, many older adults are eager to return to in-person browsing and shopping. It can be a fun way to get out and about, especially with all of the decorations and bustle the holiday season brings.

At the same time, holiday shopping can test one’s patience! If you’re a family caregiver trying to figure out how to make a shopping outing as simple and enjoyable as possible for yourself and the loved one you’re caring for, consider these ideas.

Choose the Right Time

Your parent may enjoy the idea of being part of a lively holiday shopping crowd, but it might be less stressful for all to avoid peak shopping hours. On weekend mornings and afternoons, especially, parking will be a challenge. You may not want to just drop off your mom at the curb and leave her there alone while you look for a spot. It can be even more difficult if you need to find disabled parking, as there are far fewer of those spots available. Public transportation will also be crowded, and schedules may be different on weekends.

Busy times also mean crowded aisles and long lines at registers, restrooms and fitting rooms. It can all test anyone’s patience and endurance, but especially someone who has mobility challenges or other health concerns.

A better bet is to shop on weekday mornings or in the evening on weekends. This is true for grocery stores and other retail locations. At the beginning of the pandemic, many stores added “senior shopping hours,” a designated time that helps older adults avoid crowds. Find out whether any of the stores you want to shop in offer these time slots.

Even better? Shop online while enjoying holiday treats and warm drinks in the comfort of home. Add holiday music and some decorations, and you’ve created your own (much less exhausting!) shopping experience.

Take Advantage of Store Services

If the senior you are caring for does a lot of shopping, makes numerous purchases or buys large items, you can help keep them—and yourself—from getting bogged down with carrying, transporting and wrapping. If the store offers shipping, send gifts directly to the recipients.

Ever since the pandemic, some stores have offered free or same-day delivery to the buyer’s home. Many still offer free curbside pickup for items you’ve purchased online.

If you want to keep shopping, ask if purchased items can be held for a few hours. And, while many people love to wrap gifts at home, many stores offer this service. It may save time and frustration—not to mention the wrapping is often free.

Finally, find out if a store employee can help you load purchases into your car. This can be a big help if you’re pushing a wheelchair or otherwise helping your senior to the car. Department store clerks aren’t likely to help in this way, but smaller retailers and mom-and-pop stores may be happy to help. Big-box stores and grocery stores typically help customers load their cars.

Take a Break (or Two)

Research shows that older shoppers, especially those over age 70, want access to seating in stores. If you’re shopping with a senior who walks on their own, be mindful of taking rest breaks. Look for seating areas inside stores or in adjacent public spaces or restaurants. Sitting and people-watching can be a fun break from shopping. While you’re at it, be sure your senior drinks plenty of water.

Right at Home provides a wide range of services for seniors and adults with disabilities. These services include companionship and homemaking, personal care, and respite for family caregivers who need a break. Our caregivers are trained and bonded/insured, and they are happy to drive and assist clients on a shopping outing. It’s one of the many ways our caregivers help clients maintain a healthy, safe, independent lifestyle. Use our office locator to contact your local Right at Home today and ask for a FREE in-home consultation.

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Right at Home offers in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities who want to live independently. Most Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated, and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff.
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