Making Errands More Efficient

Has this ever happened to you? You look at your watch and realize that the day is nearly over and you haven’t gotten to any of your errands. This can be a particularly common dilemma for family caregivers, which can be complicated by needing to bring your loved one along with you.

Consider these six tips to structure your outings to maximize efficiency and lower everyone’s stress:

  1. Alternate the focus of the trip: Sometimes the trick to a successful trip lies in managing expectations. Your loved one has his or her priorities and you have yours; and if you mix both the errands together into a single trip, someone may feel slighted. Try alternating weeks or individual shopping days. On your loved one’s day, make the entire errand experience about him or her. This will help keep you from getting frustrated over not getting what you had intended to get done in the outing, and you can include a stop for coffee or a meal as a treat!
  2. Consider curbside drop-offs: Dropping your loved one off at the door can be quicker than using handicapped parking and can maximize your time. (This is only an option if your loved one doesn’t suffer from dementia or has physical limitations that require your assistance.)
  3. Shop small: Consider choosing locally owned establishments for errands. You can often find a level of service and personal attention cherished by older adults who only get out on occasion, and the spaces tend to be smaller in size and more manageable for both of you.
  4. Grab a shopping cart, even if you are only going in for one or two things: Shopping carts can provide stabilization for your loved one, serving the same purpose as a walker. Plus, many older adults who shy away from walkers will use shopping carts to support them as they move through the store. Motorized carts are definitely an option, but they can be unpredictable. Some move unexpectedly or too quickly and some are challenging to operate.
  5. Set reasonable goals: When getting in and out of the car is an effort, multiple stops can be challenging. Think about what is reasonable to do in a single outing. Consider two separate morning trips, rather than one big shopping day.
  6. Investigate home delivery: These days most things can be delivered to your door. Talk to your loved one’s pharmacy and dry cleaner about delivery options and look into meal and grocery delivery services.