Join me for the 'Relaxed Lane' challenge!

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Dr. Eleanor Feldman Barbera
Dr. Eleanor Feldman Barbera

Denise B. Scott, president of Drive Consulting, posted an intriguing story on LinkedIn the other day about a Scottish supermarket that partners with Alzheimer Scotland to help those with memory loss.

The workers are trained to understand how to help people with dementia, and the supermarket offers a “relaxed checkout lane” for seniors and others who might need a little extra time when paying for goods at the register.

On senior citizen discount day, the store posts a sign at the entry to the cashier's line designating it as the “relaxed checkout lane,” allowing customers in a rush to go elsewhere. Those on the relaxed lane can check out slowly, without the pressure of worrying that someone behind them will get irritated.

The concept is so simple, easy and kind that I decided to ask my local supermarket if they'd join in.

With some trepidation, I approached Foodtown manager Mauricio Franco and introduced myself and the idea of trying it out on the next senior discount day. He was immediately and completely on board and agreed I could come by the next day with signs for the register and briefly train his staff.

I spoke with three English-speaking cashiers, who were enthusiastic about the project and who relayed my information to their Spanish-speaking coworkers. One of the physical therapists at “my” nursing home translated the English version of the sign into Spanish and a young helper at home “laminated” it with clear packing tape to make it more durable (I was in a hurry).

The following day, I arrived at the supermarket to observe the morning of pilot testing. The cashier reported that things were going smoothly and one of the customers in line said having the relaxed lane was “muy bien.” I also posted about the trial on my local online message board and received over a half dozen emails and posts from appreciative neighbors.

When I stopped at the supermarket on the next senior discount day later that week, I saw the relaxed checkout lane in place again and that it had been extended into the afternoon. The implementation was straightforward and the program was well received.

And now I turn to you, Dear Reader, for help in spreading the word. It's a wonderful way to offer compassion and support in an uneasy world.

If each of us who cares about elders stops by the local supermarket with signs in hand, perhaps we can create more elder-friendly communities, one store at a time.

To make this as easy as possible, I created a free resource page on which you can find:

•  A sign that explains the relaxed lane register, to be placed at the front of the checkout lane.

•  A sign with the “Relaxed Checkout Lane” title for greater visibility. (My supermarket used both signs to notify their customers about their special lane).

•  A brief video explaining the program and teaching the supermarket staff.

You can find these resources on MyBetterNursingHome's sister site for families of elders, Eldercare with Dr. El.

Please join me in taking The Relaxed Lane Challenge!

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., author of The Savvy Resident's Guide, is an Award of Excellence winner in the Blog Content category of the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence program. She also is a Gold Medal blogger in the American Society of Business Publication Editors Midwest Regional competition. A speaker and consultant with more than 20 years of experience as a psychologist in long-term care, she maintains her own award-winning website at MyBetterNursingHome.com.

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