Sarah has been caring for her husband Bob at home since his diagnosis of dementia 2 years ago. One day she spotted a poster in her grocery store for Groceries for Care, held every Tuesday, 10 - 11:45.
This also happens to be senior discount day at the store. Sarah decides to try it. On Tuesday she and Bob go to the cafe at their local grocery. There are 4 other couples there, one facilitator who appears to be in charge, and several volunteers. The volunteers welcome Bob and Sarah and ask who is going to have coffee and whose going shopping? Sarah says she would love a chance to shop... Bob follows one of the volunteers over to get a cup of coffee. Sarah is surprised how easy the transition was...and goes off to shop for about 45 minutes.
When Sarah returns, she sees the group gathered at tables in the cafe, working on a project. There are fall root vegetables on the table. They are holding them, running hands over them, and describing how they feel. One volunteer asks them for words. "Bumpy." "Orange". "Curving." They offer. "I love fall and the smell of leaves."
The volunteer writes their words down on a small notecard, and pops it into a frame donated by the store. She writes the first names of the participants on the card.
"Come next week and this will be up in the root vegetable display area!" she says. The group is impressed by their efforts and the store's engagement with the group.
Sarah is too.
In the car on the way home, Bob asks if he can go shopping with her again.
"Of course," she says. And she reminds herself to call to let them know she'll be coming again next week.
Some days, neighboring school children join in the G4C program as a service-learning project. With this program, the larger community begins to see people with dementia as a valuable part of their community, not to be feared, but to be engaged and treasured.
Large-scale grocery store chains are an easy first step to adopt this program. But similar models could take place wherever there is an area for people to gather in a store - box stores like Target and Costco, or pharmacies like CVS.