If you have a new spinal cord injury, one of the things you will have to re-learn how to do is how to grocery shop. Grocery shopping from a wheelchair will present challenges that you didn’t have to consider before. But if you plan ahead, the trip will be more enjoyable. So here are five tips on how to make shopping from a wheelchair a little easier.
Find An Accessible Store
Most grocery stores should be basically accessible, but some will be easier to navigate than others. The wider the aisles, the better. Ideally, you will want to be able to turn your chair completely around in the middle of the aisle without running into the shelves.
Many grocery stores have a flat, level entry, and automatic doors, but some don’t. Smaller neighborhood stores may be more difficult to get into than newer, larger chain stores. They are more likely to be inside older buildings and have steps, or traditionally-sized doors. Because of this, you may have to travel a bit farther to get to a store that works for you.
Bring A List
Making a grocery list is a good tip for anyone, but it can be especially labor-saving for someone in a wheelchair. When making your list, group items together by where you find them in the store. For example, list all the meat together, or all they dairy products together. This will save you from running back and forth across the store.
Be Intentional About The Time You Go
If you know that your grocery store is always packed with shoppers on Thursday afternoons, don’t go at that time. Choose a time when the store is less likely to be crowded. This helps you in two ways. It gives you more space to maneuver your wheelchair. It also means the staff is more likely to be available to provide you assistance since they will not be busy helping other customers.
Another good thing to consider is what days and times the store re-stocks. If you only have the energy to make one trip a week, you don’t want to go on a day when they will be out of your favorite cheese. Find out when the new food comes into the store and shop as soon after that as possible. It will help you avoid having to go out again later to pick up missing items.
There will be items at the store you can’t reach or see. Instead of having to bring a person with you to help, bring equipment that can assist you. Reachers are made to help you grasp items higher up on the shelf. Mirrors that have a handle can be used to look into or around bins and shelves beyond your vision.
Use Home Delivery
If you still don’t feel you are ready to tackle going to the grocery store, you can consider home delivery. Some stores offer delivery services where you can shop online, or call the store and place your order. Then they will deliver the groceries for a reasonable fee. This is an especially great option if you are not feeling well, or if the weather is extreme.
While it may be more difficult now, getting out of the house and back into the community is important. Shopping for your own groceries increases your independence. It also gives you the opportunity to socialize. If you don’t want to go alone, maybe you can set a time with a group of friends, where you all go shopping together. This will make the effort more fun, and if you end up needing more help than you expected, you can ask your friends for assistance.
You may eventually find that instead of seeing grocery shopping as a chore, it becomes a happily anticipated part of your week.
Author: Annie Beth Donahue is a professional writer with a health and disability focus.