For seniors, complying with the rules of staying at home and social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak have proven easy enough. However, there remains one place where they may feel trepidation: the grocery store.
While many stores have rules in place to encourage social distancing, the potential for close contact with others remains higher at the grocery store. However, seniors can make these trips safely by putting smart planning into practice.
Even though COVID-19 is dangerous, food is safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported there is no evidence the corona-virus spreads through food and food packaging.
Even so, delivery is highly recommended for seniors. However, if delivery is not possible, the following guidelines can make your grocery store trip safer.
Before You Go To The Store
Many stores have special hours for seniors to shop. Typically, these hours are early in the morning.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control now recommends wearing a mask to places where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as a grocery store. Also, make sure to take hand sanitizer and apply it before and after you leave the store.
If ever there was a time for making a grocery list, this is it. Plan ahead so you can buy at least a week’s worth of food and limit your grocery store trips.
While You Are Shopping
As you arrive at the store, it’s a perfect time to remind yourself once again – don’t touch your face! This applies from the moment you leave the car until you put on hand sanitizer when you get back into the car. Even if you wear a mask and gloves, don’t touch your nose, mouth or eyes. That’s so important that the World Health Organization makes it one of the top ways to avoid becoming infected in its basic protective measures guide.
As you shop, maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others. Touch only the things you plan to place in your cart. This protects you and other shoppers. Many stores offer a disinfectant wipe for your trip to the store. Make sure to use that while pushing your cart, and use them to open freezer doors.
After You Finish Shopping
Once you leave the store and load groceries into your car, apply hand sanitizer. Once you have returned to your home and unloaded all the groceries, wipe down surfaces where the bags were and wash your hands. For this, you do not need disinfectant.
Rinsing food and vegetables as usual is enough to ensure they are safe, according to the FDA.
This is optional, but you can wipe down non-porous packaging as well, using disinfectant wipes, according to Consumer Reports. The main thing to remember is cleaning your hands. “It all comes down to hand hygiene,” Liz Garman, a spokesperson for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in Arlington, Virginia, told Consumer Reports.
Getting Food Delivered
It’s understandable if seniors prefer skipping all the above and getting food delivered. If that is the case, skip person-to-person contact. Pay the bill and tip online and have the delivery person leave the food at your doorway.
From that point, the procedure is the same as if you shopped yourself. Put away the food containers, wipe down the counter and wash your hands.
If delivery is not available in your area or costs too much, consider reaching out to family or close friends for help. While you might feel reluctant to make that call, chances are they will leap at the chance to do something for you during this time of crisis.