Making Grocery Shopping Easier for Elders
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
A recent AARP report indicates that almost 90% of people ages 65 and older in the U.S. want to remain in their homes and communities as they age. This same report also reveals that by 2034 there will be more people in the U.S. that are over the age of 65 than under the age of 18. As the U.S. population grows older, there is an increasing number of both individuals and caregivers who face multiple challenges including grocery shopping and food preparation.
These statistics clearly point to a growing need for retailers to seek out ways to make grocery shopping easier for elderly adults. Walmart, for example, recently announced that they are making their online grocery-ordering services available on the Avanlee Care app, which offers tools to caregivers of older adults. Their service is integrated into the app which also allows users to track medication use, monitor health and coordinate care.
As you think about the challenges seniors face each day, consider what solutions your retailer might offer to meet different levels of need. While e-commerce can assist older adults with the barriers they may face with getting groceries, there may still be some challenges with using technology. Seek to understand what your e-commerce team is doing to make online ordering simple for seniors who may have vision problems and reduced cognition or motor control. Some companies, like HEB are making new digital options available such as offering a limited assortment of key products available to order via phone or online. In addition, Instacart is boosting services to make it easier for older shoppers by initiating a Senior Support Service for people over the age of 60 in the U.S. and Canada.
Last week we talked about pop-up supermarkets. What about a pop-up store specific to meet the needs of older adults? Consider timing to coincide with governmental payment programs and location to deal with the challenge of transportation. Suggest a variety of nourishing foods such as lean ground beef, chicken, salads, fruits, vegetables, milk, water, pasta, and yogurt. Food insecure seniors have lower nutrient intakes and are more likely to suffer from diabetes, depression, and limitations in activities of daily living so you may also include other wellness type of services and simple recipes for one or two.
As you begin to look at ways to make grocery shopping easier for older adults, join forces with internal teams and external partners to help understand how age impacts shopping. Look for ways to connect with local organizations that work with the elderly to see what services may be needed or if there is an existing system that your stores can get involved in. You can also ask your older customers and/or caregivers about the specific challenges they are facing. From rethinking online technology design to developing new ordering programs, serving your growing number of elderly shoppers is sure to have mutually beneficial rewards.