All About Food (Part V)

Story 5: The Grocery Store

The counselor told her to come up with a list of things she enjoyed doing. She was surprised that grocery shopping topped the list. It’s been getting harder, and sometimes she’s so busy taking care of her husband she couldn’t leave the house, but it made her happy even when she’s talking to strangers at the store. The only thing she hated was the confusion. These days, there was so much she couldn’t understand. She crossed her eyes as she tried to read the nutrition label on her cereal box.

***

Physical or cognitive declines can make grocery shopping a daunting task. Remember that rainy day when your car broke down and you had to carry four bags of groceries with an umbrella barely covering your head, after a long day of work that nearly drove you out of your mind? That’s how hard a grocery trip may seem to some seniors. At the same time, grocery shopping may be the only time when an older person leaves the house and enjoys some social interaction.

Having a volunteer do the shopping or having special food bundles prepared by grocery stores may be helpful to those who can’t shop for themselves anymore. But for those who still want to go and shop, how about printing bigger food labels? How about having dietitian or nutrition counselors at grocery stores? Perhaps shopping carts can come with magnifying glasses, seats can be attached to the back of the cart? How about having a “help button” down the aisle?

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About C

If you consider volunteering at a luncheon for older adults as my first exposure to the field, I have been in geropsychology for at least twenty years. As family, friend, volunteer, trainee, and professional, I have found myself in adult day care centers, senior centers, senior living facilities, nursing homes, medical and psychiatric wards, hospice, and personal homes of older adults. Wherever I go, be it an orphanage, a museum, a prison, an airport, or a random corner in the neighborhood, issues related to aging and mental health often come to mind. I used to think that I could make a difference only if I became a top-notch researcher, educator, or clinician. As I continue to follow this meandering path, it dawns on me that as a nobody in the field, I can still add my light to the sum of light by sharing what I know. Over the years, I have "converted" a few very dedicated individuals to focus on aging-related work within their respective disciplines and encouraged a handful more to stay in this field despite its winding course. I believe by bringing aging and mental health issues to the foreground, we will amass a stronger force to promote advocacy, research, and quality care.
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