For a person with dementia, going to the grocery store can be daunting. The checkout lines often move quickly, and as someone with dementia is sorting through their groceries and searching for the cash or cards in their wallet, they know other customers are waiting impatiently behind them. Simply put, when a person is struggling with memory and cognition, running errands can become super-stressful and start to feel like a little too much.
That's why a Tesco store in Forres, Scotland, recently opened a "relaxed checkout" lane, where customers with dementia, social anxiety, autism, or even just small children so they can take their time unloading their items, paying, and chatting with the cashier — a store employee who has been specially trained for that role. A sign at the front of the lane assures customers that here, they can take as long as they need — and advises them to be aware that there will likely be a wait.
The special checkout lane was created just last month after dementia support organization Alzheimer Scotland held a dementia awareness session at the Forres Tesco location. One of the store's employees suggested creating a less stressful experience for shoppers with special needs, and the relaxed checkout lane was born.
So far, the Forres store is the only Tesco location to implement the relaxed checkout idea, but Wendy Menzies, a dementia advisor for Alzheimer Scotland, believes that if it spreads it could help dementia patients everywhere feel more independent and involved in their communities.
"It can help take some of the pressure off, and hopefully then it will encourage people to still go out and about and participate in things that they've always done," Menzies told TODAY.
We hope to see low-stress checkout lanes like one this in our local grocery stores soon!