Holiday Shopping Safety Tips for Seniors

By Michelle Cemental

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And that means everyone is shopping for gifts for their families and friends. However, seniors may struggle with shopping as they get older.

As mobility and overall health generally decline as seniors age, shopping can become stressful or even unsafe. Plus, families grow larger, meaning the shopping list gets longer. But with a few adjustments, seniors can make holiday shopping a little easier. 

Plan Ahead 

As seniors are looking to get gifts for everyone in the family, it’s helpful to plan ahead. By making a list of the items you need, you can stay organized and ensure that no one is left out. Make note of the stores that sell those items to help you identify where you need to shop. Then, you can decide when to go to each store to cross items off your list.

You should also consider your loved one's schedule. If you will be out when they need to take a medication, make sure you bring that medication with you.

Part of your planning should also include looking at the weather. Avoid taking aging loved ones out in poor weather conditions. Wet and icy roads can become dangerous when driving, and parking lots can easily become slick.

Do a Little at a Time 

Older adults often have a wide variety of people that they're buying gifts for. Their families have grown to include more than just their children. Grandchildren, sons- and daughters-in-law, and other relatives have joined the festivities. A one-stop shopping trip for everyone in the family would wear anyone out!

Instead, seniors should focus their shopping trips on just a few gifts at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. You can also pace your shopping day by planning for breaks, like stopping for lunch. 

RELATED CONTENT: Senior Safety while Shopping on Black Friday & Cyber Monday 

Start Early 

No one wants to have to run to the store at the last-minute to pick up a gift — especially seniors. To help avoid the added stress of the holiday season, seniors can start buying gifts early. And it’s never too early to start.

Some seniors start shopping right after Christmas for next year’s gifts, taking advantage of good deals. You don’t have to start that early, but buying gifts in advance can help seniors better manage their shopping list. 

Take Company 

Holiday shopping alone isn't any fun anyway. Seniors can take a friend or family member with them while shopping. These individuals can help push the cart, get items off the shelf, carry bags, drive, and more. A great companion can make the day fun through good conversation.  

Another shopper can also help seniors pace themselves or offer a helping hand when a senior gets tired. Plus, there's also safety in numbers. A companion can help watch for anything suspicious and provide support in case of an emergency.

Shop at the Right Time 

When you go shopping can have a big impact on your experience. For example, weekdays will be less crowded than weekends. But on weekdays after work, many stores become overcrowded — especially during the busy holiday season.

Encourage your elderly loved one to shop earlier in the day when the stores will be more peaceful and less crowded. If you shop on a weekend, get to a store at opening to help cut down on the crowds.  

RELATED CONTENT: Christmas Gifts for a Parent with Alzheimer’s 

Buy Online 

Seniors can avoid crowds altogether if they do their Christmas shopping online. Many stores offer the same deals — or even better ones — on their website. You can also easily compare prices for the same item at multiple stores, so you get the best deal.

However, not all seniors are tech-savvy. So, they may need to ask help from a family member to make sure they complete their purchase correctly. Shopping online can help seniors remain safe and comfortable at home while they cross items off their list.  

If you are buying gifts online, you might even be able to request gift wrapping. And many stores offer curbside pickup, so you don’t have to worry about added shipping costs. 

Prevent Falls 

Stores can be a minefield for seniors. There could be uneven ground, slick floors, tight walkways, items on the ground. People could bump into you, knocking you off your balance.

Wearing the right shoes can help eliminate some fall risk. And staying vigilant and watching for fall hazards can help you avoid dangerous falls. Seniors should also let other individuals open doors and pick up heavy items to stay safe.  

Be Alert 

Not only should you look for fall hazards, but watch for suspicious activity. The holiday season also brings with it an increase in theft. Unfortunately, seniors make easy targets. By staying alert and shopping in a group, you can cut down on this risk.

If you are shopping at multiple stores, try not to leave too many shopping bags in your car unattended. A car with lots of bags is more of a target for thieves than an empty one. 

Additionally, some seniors don't like to use credit cards and prefer cash instead. Encourage these loved ones to avoid taking a large amount of cash out of their wallet when paying. Instead, pull out bills discreetly and individually.

RELATED CONTENT: Avoiding Holiday Scams 

If a senior doesn’t have anyone who can go shopping with them, reach out to your local Caring team. Our professional caregivers offer companionship and transportation services, so they can assist with holiday shopping. 

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Tags: Senior Safety, Holidays