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How to Grocery Shop for the Elderly

by Tamara Runzel

Grocery shopping for the elderly can help make a challenging ordeal a bit easier if instead of shopping for an elderly friend or family member, you shop with him. You can help him prepare for the shopping trip, choose healthy items and guide him through the store while he maintains his independence.

Preparing for the Trip

Before your first trip together, sit down with the elderly person for whom you’re shopping. Find out if there are certain stores he likes to frequent, specific brands he prefers, types of food he wants and how much money he plans to spend. It’s also a good idea to prepare a grocery list together before you head to the store. Look for sales and coupons in weekly ads and on the Internet to help him save money.

Encourage Healthier Eating

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends anyone over age 50 eat 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit, 2 to 3 1/2 cups of vegetables, 5 to 10 ounces of grains, 5 to 7 ounces of protein, 3 cups of fat free or low-fat milk and 5 to 8 teaspoons of oil. A low salt, low fat, high fiber diet is recommended by the National Institute on Aging It’s a good idea to ask about any health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease or allergies and to purchase foods that meet these issues on your shopping trip.

At the Store

Once you're at the store, finding groceries can be a challenge for the elderly depending on their location. If there’s an item of the list that is out of his reach, get it down and pass it to him for his review. Letting him look at the item, check the label and compare prices gives him a feeling of independence. Hand him fruits or vegetables and let him inspect them to make his own selections based on quality. Selecting smaller items is a good idea so they’re not too difficult to lift. Try to stay in the background when you’re checking out. If the checker does talk to you, defer any questions or comments to your companion.

Unloading and Taking Care of Groceries

Once you’re home, ask if he wants help unloading and taking care of the groceries. As you unpack the groceries, ask if you can help open or repackage anything that might be difficult for him to manage. You can open jars or cans and pour the contents into covered plastic dishes or smaller glass jars as long as he'll use them within the recommended time.

About the Author

Tamara Runzel has been writing military, parenting, family and relationship articles since 2008. Runzel started in television news, followed by education before deciding to be a stay at home mom. Her articles have appeared in military publications as well as numerous online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from University of the Pacific.

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