Tips to Help Grocery Shopping for Seniors

As we age, there are a lot of “little things” that can become more difficult to accomplish. Although these tasks seem small, they add up to a lot, and it is our ability to carry them out that allows us to be independent and to live comfortably in our own homes. One of these tasks is grocery shopping for seniors. As a seniors’ home care company, we talk to many people, daughters in particular, who worry about how their mom and dad are going to get their groceries, especially in the winter. Quite often, the daughter is taking time off work to help mom or dad buy food and prepare meals.In this post, we will discuss options for you to consider as you build a support system to help mom and dad maintain health and independence by easily getting their groceries and eating nutritious food.

Grocery shopping for seniors: Do your parents need help?

Image of senior woman in groceries department

Something as simple as grocery shopping can have a tremendous impact on the life of a senior. Buying food is a task they have completed for their entire adult lives, but it may become too difficult to execute. Seniors who could get to the store on their own may be justifiably afraid to try, worried about falling and a lengthy hospital stay and recovery. Whatever the reason, losing the ability to buy food can lead to a feeling of frustration, worthlessness, and despair.

Some signs that getting groceries is becoming too difficult for your parents:

1. An empty or near empty fridge

When mom or dad cannot get out to the store to get groceries, there will not be a lot of food in the house. If getting to the store rarely happens, or shopping is done in a rushed manner, you may find only canned goods or processed long-life foods in their kitchen. It is important for seniors to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and to have a variety of foods available for easy eating and to stimulate appetite.

2. Mom is subsisting on toast and tea

Believe it or not, there is something called “Toast and Tea Syndrome”, which refers to seniors not eating proper meals, choosing instead to subsist on easy-to-prepare meals of toast and tea. They may not want to cook for only themselves; they may not be interested in having a whole meal if they are eating alone; or a good choice of foods may not be available. But seniors should avoid relying heavily on toast and tea, because consuming simple carbohydrates tends to reduce caloric intake, reduce vitamin and mineral intake, and cause a gradual loss of wellness and muscle due to poor protein intake.

Grocery shopping for seniors: Solutions

Luckily, there are some solutions out there to make life a little easier and to give you the peace of mind that mom and dad have their cupboards stocked.

Online shopping

Companies like Grocery Gateway allow you to order groceries online to be delivered right to the front door. A delivery surcharge is levied (roughly $11.00 at the time of writing this post). There is a minimum order of $45.00 (not including taxes and delivery). Grocery Gateway will deliver within a 90-minute window, and will call your mom or dad 15 minutes before they arrive so that the delivery driver won’t take them by surprise.

For the caregiving family relative, working out the weekly requirements in advance will save everyone time and keep you from driving across town for one carton of milk.

Local grocery store delivery

While online shopping continues to be a great option, many people have discovered that their local grocery store will also deliver groceries. In my neighbourhood, both Loblaws and Sobeys will deliver groceries for approximately $15-$20 per load. For a grocery store to deliver a load, seniors have to come to the store and do the shopping, picking out all of the things that they want to buy. After the groceries are paid for and bagged, the cashier will arrange for the store to deliver the contents. This option is good for seniors who are still mobile, but cannot lift or bring the groceries home by public transit.

Hiring a caregiver

If your mom and dad have a hired caregiver, part of their duties can be to pick up groceries on the way to their home or accompany your parents to the grocery store. A patient and helpful caregiver can get mom ready to head out to the grocery store, and escort her in a taxi or on public transit. While at the grocery store they can stroll through the grocery aisles, putting lots of thought and consideration into eating and meals.

If mom or dad gets tired, they can sit with a cup of coffee at the grocery store café and recoup. Having lots of time and lots of help at the grocery store can be a lovely way to spend a morning. Caregivers often play a role in meal preparation, so in addition to helping pick up groceries, they can work with your parents to build a delicious menu as well as cook the meal.

Getting meals delivered

meals on wheels - home care North York

For seniors who are not well enough or able to get to the grocery store (even with a caregiver), or who have stopped cooking and preparing meals, Meals on Wheels is an excellent way to be well-fed with nutritious and healthy food. More than just food, however, the volunteers who deliver the meals offer a friendly visit and conversation whenever the meal arrives. Meals on Wheels staff will also let families know if your loved one is found sick or hurt.

Special dietary requirements are also catered for (e.g. lactose intolerance, puréed/minced-food diets), and a wider menu is offered in large urban areas. Meals are typically less than $8.00 for the three courses of entrée, soup and dessert. In addition to hot meals, fresh fruit and vegetable baskets can be delivered from some locations.

As their needs change over time, seniors can continue to enjoy delicious, varied, and healthy foods.  It’s just a matter of getting the right help.