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Can Shopping With Mom or Dad Go Faster?


"My 85-year-old mother LOVES shopping, but it is challenging for her since she moves so slowly. Mom is limited to a walker and refuses to use a wheelchair or motorized chair. Shopping for a few groceries takes three hours, while shopping for clothes or anything else takes an entire day.  Don't get me wrong, we love taking Mom out and helping her exercise, but shopping with her takes more time than any of us, children, have to spare. We are all raising our own children, holding down jobs, and doing our best to care for Mom. 

How do we speed things up?" - READER



You all sound like wonderful children who are doing their best to care for their mother.

It seems you are frustrated that your mother cannot move at your pace. Although you are aware of your mother's age, it is difficult for you to fully understand her experience at eighty-five years of age. To better understand, take some time to seriously consider your mother's point of view.

Your mother sees shopping as an outing. She can explore what is new on the grocery store shelves or among the clothing racks. She has nothing but time to ponder her choices while in the store. It is likely that she has done this her entire life. The difference is that you, children, are now witnessing it and have become her transportation. You probably did not care how much time your mother spent shopping when you were younger or before she was as dependent on you.

I do believe that these outings are very good for your mother, and it seems you are aware of that as well. Being mobile is very, very important for the body. Additionally, the stimulation of shopping and interacting with others is healthy brain activity. So, these shopping trips are a wonderful activity for Mom.

Expecting Mom to move at your pace with a walker is not realistic on any front. Walkers trade speed for stability. If you don't believe me, try using a walker for an entire shopping trip. In addition to the walker, consider your mother's age and whatever physical barrier she has that forces her to use a walker. 

Here are seven ways you can make shopping with mom more enjoyable.

  1. Clear your calendar and adjust your expectations. Sometimes we make mountains out of molehills, and sometimes we claim to be short on time when in fact, we have enough. Before the shopping trip, clear enough time in your day that Mom's "outing" can be enjoyable. Being realistic in this regard can allow you to have more fun. Be truly present with your Mother. Enjoy the time you have.
  2. Now, with that being said, when you genuinely lack the time, do not make the trip. No one wants to see a pouting, impatient adult child. Why put yourself, or your mother, through that?
  3. Consider paying a teenage grandchild to escort grandma on a shopping trip. Let them know upfront what it entails.
  4. You could also consider hiring a companion to shop with Mom. Her socialization and exercise may be worth the cost.
  5. Take turns with your siblings to do the shopping with Mom. If you have been doing the majority of it, then share the load. That way no one gives up more time than they have to spend. Occasional trips are easier to handle if you prepare yourself ahead of time.
  6. During these long shopping trips, figure out a way to entertain yourself. Plenty of people play games, listen to music, or watch a video on their phones while waiting for a family member. Explain to Mom that you don’t need quite as much shopping time, though you are happy to wait and process email, listen to music, play a game, or whatever.
  7. On days that you simply cannot spend the time, make a quick stop on your own to purchase what Mom wants.

There is no guarantee that any of these suggestions will completely fix shopping for you. I do suggest that you reframe these trips in your mind, thinking of them as precious time spent with a mother who will not always be there. It will help to think of it as an opportunity rather than a burden.

I wish you the best!


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