More than half of people over 75 report feeling lonely. By that age, many have lost friends and family. The elderly are often isolated in their homes, stuck in a rut of their daily lives. Physical mobility can limit many from getting out and seeing people. After the past year and a half, that statistic is even higher.
In the Netherlands, seven percent of the population is over the age of 75. This number is expected to double by 2030. With the elderly population being such a significant number and loneliness being so pervasive, the Dutch government decided to do something about it. The “One Against Loneliness” campaign was designed to encourage individuals and companies alike to find a solution to the problem.
Colette Cloosterman-van Erd, CCO of major Dutch grocery chain, Jumbo, felt compelled to join the initiative.
Jumbo was founded in 1921.
“Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain, we are at the heart of society,” Cloosterman-van Erd says. “Our stores are an important meeting place for many people and we want to play a role in identifying and reducing loneliness.”
Together with the executives at Jumbo, Cloosterman-van Erd developed the “Kletskassa,” which translates to “chat checkout.” The specific line encourages those who might need a bit of companionship to stay and chat with their cashier, whether just to pass the time or to serve as a means of companionship.
The program launched in late 2019. While social distancing might have caused some of the development of the program to stall, Jumbo has seen the positive impact the “chat checkout” has not only on their customers, but on their staff. As a result, Jumbo has promised to explant the initiative by launching these chat checkouts in 200 stores across the country.
Many stores have also developed a “chat corner” where customers can grab a cup of coffee and spend some time chatting with other shoppers.
A chat checkout. Credit: BrightVibes
Opening of the chat checkout. Credit: Jumbo.
“It is a small gesture, but very valuable, especially in a world that is digitizing and getting faster and faster,” Cloosterman-van Erd says.
With how it positively impacts the community, calling these chat checkouts a “small gesture” feels like an understatement. Studies show that the more lonely an elder is, the more their mental and physical health is at risk. Having the open outlet to come chat with others could be a way to improve the overall health of elders, making their golden years truly golden.
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