The pandemic has brought a permanent change of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors regarding daily activities around the world. The U.S. has seen significant shifts toward convenience shopping and the use of telehealth. These virtual alternatives include things like mail delivery, online order pick-up, and telehealth services to limit exposure to coronavirus. As older adult wellness experts, this leads us to wonder… are older adults really better off using telehealth and shopping online?

The problem with normalizing online alternatives for older adults

For many older adults, leaving their homes to go shopping or travel to doctor appointments may feel intimidating, difficult, or impossible even before the pandemic struck. These feelings likely emerge due to the fear of encountering unfamiliar environments and not knowing what could happen if something doesn’t go as planned. While the newer options of moving to mail delivery, online order pick-up, and telehealth are convenient for some, this also serves as a challenge for many older adults, as it is yet another learning curve for them. The last thing older adults need is to feel thrown off by completely altering their daily routines moving to a virtual platform. Research tells us this abrupt lifestyle shift prevents them from getting outside of their homes.

It is critical now more than ever to meet older adults’ needs and, more specifically, grant them an easier way to retrieve regular shopping items, medication, and healthcare. Online convenience shopping and telehealth are beneficial for some, but online alternatives may not be in the best interest of the older adult long term. Once older adults replace normal outings with virtual alternatives, their old pattern of mobility weakens, making it more difficult to participate in activities outside of the home. For older adults, spending more time inside does not realistically prepare them for obstacles like trip hazards outside of the home. Staying at home more often could likely create future barriers for them that may lead to deconditioning, lack of confidence, and the decline of balance and physical activity. 

We must empower older adults to get outside and receive the stimulus in strength and function to keep living their lives mobile. If we can change the way older adults perceive the world outside of their homes, daily activities that involve leaving their homes could further enhance their quality of life. But first, we must provide older adults public spaces where they feel comfortable going to, and won’t be fearful of trying a new path.

So, how can we increase the value of physically leaving the home for older adults instead of normalizing virtual alternatives? We must encourage older adults to go to convenience stores that combine retail and health, such as Walmart.  

How Walmart can remove these barriers in older adults’ daily lives

Walmart is one of the best places where older adults can safely be mobile outside of their homes: Walmart not only includes the physical nature of getting out of a vehicle, walking into the store and pushing a cart, but each store also makes healthcare more accessible for older adults with its pharmacy, vision checks, and grocery. By combining retail and health throughout the U.S., Walmart has paved the way to providing easier access to healthcare – especially for older adults with Medicare. For example, when older adults leave their homes to go to a Walmart, they can now cut out multiple trips across town because Walmart allows them to grocery shop, go to the pharmacy, and have their vision checked in one single trip. This automatically takes away the hassle of driving to multiple locations, but still encourages older adults to be mobile and independent outside of their homes. As new Walmart Health centers open more locations in coming years, we’ll see even more types of healthcare offered such as behavioral health services, making retail and healthcare experiences all the more efficient.

Enhancing the healthcare space through convenience and empowering mobility

There are enough barriers in the way of older adults living their daily lives. In order to help them move past these barriers, we must add more safe and convenient locations for them to visit outside of their homes. Nymbl strives to help older adults to have the ability to fully participate in daily activities, and to live more confident and independent lifestyles. Scientifically-proven to improve balance by 30 percent, Nymbl is the only scalable fall prevention solution that has validated physical outcomes, not just attitudes and beliefs. It is ultimately older adults’ physical ability that directs their real abilities.

It’s important to Nymbl to team up with partners who specialize in areas that can lead to an increase in fall risks, such as vision and medication. With Nymbl’s balance training solution and Walmarts’ many stores that combine retail and health, Walmart and Nymbl can help older adults physically get to their vision checks and pharmacies. As a company that empowers older adults to feel confident with their balance as they age, we believe Nymbl can enhance the healthcare space even more in combination with healthcare providers such as Walmart, working together to decrease older adults’ fall risks.