Digitized stores are very common in most part of the world. Self-checkout and bagging stuffs all by oneself creating a void between shoppers and shop keepers. This is a disadvantage for elders who used to go for shopping just to meet people and to get rid of loneliness feeling. Worldwide one of the largest problem elders fighting is, loneliness. Nuclear families, children staying in abroad or working in different cities making elderly feel lonelier. It is a very common problem that all of us are going to face in future.
‘Loneliness is epidemic of our times’ : According to research conducted this year, nearly 50% of people aged 55 and above experience loneliness because of circumstances. There may be friendly neighborhood but during pandemic elderly suffered a lot as their immune system does not permit them to step out for shopping or any type of activities.
Shopping is a great way to make community connections:
Dutch Local Jumbo Supermarket in Vlijmen recently came up with a plan to help those elders who are alone. The two initiatives the supermarket is coming up with are named “All Together Coffee Corner” and “Chat Checkout”
All Together Coffee Corner is opened as a social coffee corner where elderly people meet with other locals and others just for a chat or to ask help with small tasks. This coffee corner was inaugurated by 94 year old Christian Smits and Dutch minister Hugo de Jonge. The goal of the coffee corner is act as a meeting point for elderly people with locals as well as volunteers who can help them. Volunteers are from Alles Voor Mekaar Foundation to help the elders. This foundation brings volunteers and lonely elders together. Foundation which has been operation from past year is a huge success. It brings local volunteers on board to help elders. They help elders in shopping, gardening, walking etc.
One Against Loneliness program:
Also, Jumbo introduced 200 chat registers in its stores for customers who are not in a hurry and want to talk or chat during checkout. It is to combat loneliness. Jumbo store piloted the first chat register in 2019 and received positively by customers. In Dutch language it is called Kletskassa. Government has introduced chat checkout or kletskassa under government sponsored One Against Loneliness program which among other things also established 24/7 loneliness hotline for people who are lonely. According to Jumbo representative, this is a small gesture but a very valuable one, especially in a world that is digitizing and getting faster and faster”.
Jumbo supermarket is considering areas to open more chat registers where loneliness is a major issue in both The Netherlands and Belgium. In addition, it will be introducing ‘cozy chat corners’ where customers can sit and have a coffee with others. It will donate ingredients to Oma’s Soep an initiative that brings University students with elders to prepare soup.
Both The Netherlands and Belgium finding unique solutions to fight loneliness of elders. One of the program called “good neighbors” was introduced few years back by a nursing home. They offered students rent-free housing in exchange for spending 30 hours a week as good neighbors to elderly residents. During pandemic government advised citizens to arrange cuddle buddy to fight loneliness!
Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: November 9, 2021