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Presenting our new contributing writer, Herb Weiss.
Weiss, contributing writer, RINewsToday.com
find it difficult to shop at retail stores
Survey findings from a recently released national study, by
the Washington, DC-based AARP and NORC at the University of Chicago, will send
a strong message to America’s businesses.
With the graying of America, retail stores must change the
way they do business in order to attract customers who provide unpaid family
caregiving to their loved ones.
The study, “Family Caregiver Retail Preferences and Challenges,”
and its survey findings were presented at the AARP Executive Summit, The Price
of Caring, on September 10 in Washington, D.C. The summit’s mission was to
highlight public- and private-sector solutions to support Americans who care
for an older or ill loved one.
In-store Shopping is a Struggle
While juggling a multitude of caregiving tasks, caregivers
say a lack of accommodations for their frail family members is a problem for
shopping at retail stores. The study’s findings reveal that in-store shopping
is a struggle for one-third of the nation’s 40 million unpaid family
caregivers. Many leave their loved ones at home or choose to shop online,
despite strongly preferring the in-store experience.
A whopping 93 percent of caregivers surveyed say they shop
for the person they care for. Among these caregivers, most report shopping
monthly for groceries (87 percent), basic household items (65 percent),
toiletries (61 percent), prescription drugs (58 percent) and other health
products (52 percent for persons they regularly care for.
“Americans who take care of loved ones are often strapped
for time, and many face logistical challenges doing something as simple as
going to the grocery store,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president
and chief advocacy & engagement officer, in a September 10th statement
announcing the study’s findings. “Retailers can score big with caregivers if
they make it easier for them to bring their loved ones along when they shop,”
The AARP survey findings detail simple but important changes
retailers should consider to enhance the shopping experience of caregivers.
Businesses can provide dedicated parking spots and ample comfortable reserved
seating for older shoppers to rest, wider aisles that easily accommodate both
wheelchairs and shopping carts, longer store hours, and train their staff to
specifically work with caregivers.
The Pros and Cons of In-Store and On-Line Shopping
The survey findings in the 26-page study reveal that 82
percent of the caregiver respondents prefer to shop in-store because of the
ability to touch the products and they don’t have to wait for a product’s
delivery or pay for shipping charges. But 84 percent say they shop online for
ease and convenience, despite preferring an in-store experience. Forty three
percent of the respondents say a major reason they leave their loved one at
home when shopping is because the store environment is too difficult for the
recipients of their care.
More than 56 percent of the caregiver respondents say that
when shopping on behalf of their loved ones they spend at least $50 per month.
Forty one percent note they spend more than $250 or more a month when shopping
for a loved one.
Businesses Must Listen to the Shopping Needs of Caregivers
We listen to a lot of caregivers and it seems clear that,
regardless of the challenge, the help they want most is for somehow to find a
convenient, time-efficient and accommodating means of getting what they need,
when they need it,” said Rhode Island AARP State Director Kathleen Connell. “In
retailing, convenience is a huge competitive advantage these days. But there
are aspects of convenience that – for caregivers – go beyond finding what you
need on Amazon and having it delivered the next day or two,” says Connell.
“Some caregiver needs are in the ASAP category and they head
for brick and mortar retail establishments. Shopping for food and clothes,
picking up a prescription or medical supplies, even simple things such as
picking up dry cleaning feel like ‘emergencies’ because time is so. Imagine
this in the context of being with someone in a walker or wheelchair,” notes
Connell urges retailers to take this report to heart. “There
is an incredible amount of goodwill to be earned if you think about caregivers,
as well as those in their care, and give them the consideration that makes
their tasks a little easier.”
The AARP survey was conducted by NORC at the University of
Chicago and is based on a nationally representative survey of 1,127 Americans
who provide unpaid care for an adult age 18 or older. The survey was funded by
AARP and used AmeriSpeak®, the probability-based panel of NORC at the
University of Chicago. Interviews were conducted between Aug. 1-19, 2019,
online and using landlines and cell phones. The overall margin of sampling
error is +/- 4.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, including the
design effect. The margin of sampling error may be higher for subgroups.
To read the full report, visit: http://www.aarp.org/caregivershopping.
For more details about AARP’s Caregiver Shopping study,
contact Laura Skufca, AARP Research, Lskufca@aarp.org.
Herb Weiss has enjoyed a
distinguished 36-year career in journalism, earning a national reputation as an
expert on aging, health care and medical issues. Over 630 articles that he has
authored or coauthored have appeared in national, state and local publications.
Governor Gina Raimondo appointed Him to the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on
Today, Herb’s newspaper column appears in the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket
call, two North Rhode Island daily newspapers – and now RINewsToday.com
welcomes him as a contributing writer.
Herb and his wife, Patty Zacks, reside in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.