As a small business consultant living in Venice, one of the most “senior” zip codes in the country and perhaps the world, there are a few things to keep in mind when you have a business serving elderly populations.
Many of these recommendations would seem to be no-brainers, however, I’m stunned nearly every day how naïve many retailers and service providers are about dealing with our large and ever-growing senior population. While Venice with a medium age of 69, is likely much older than your local population, the demographics of almost every city and town in the developed world are shifting in this direction.
1. Not just an “After-Font”
Whether it is menus, price tags or contracts, having a legible font that is friendly to senior eyes will go a long way to reach an aging population. Use a wide dark legible font. Try to avoid reds and greens as people with color blindness will also be adversely affected. Keep this in mind when developing your Web presence as well. Using high contrast, dark type on white works best. Shun inverse type (white letters on black backgrounds).
If you are a retailer, at very least, have a set of readers or magnifying glass available. This is a must.
2. KISP: Keep It Simple Please
When drafting contracts and other service agreements, keep it simple. Due to the effects of advanced age, neurological conditions, medical treatments and medications, many seniors have difficulty understanding and dealing with complex terms and conditions. Do your best to sidestep the use of jargon and technical lingo.
Making these agreements simple and concise while being transparent will make great strides in winning the trust of seniors. If you are unsure if what you have developed is easy to understand, just try asking an elderly neighbor, friend or grandparent. Also, if you are drafting an agreement, run the language by an attorney letting him or her know your goal of being inclusive to the aging.
3. Mind the Volume
Between 35 and 50 percent of all seniors are suffering from some kind of hearing loss and the impacts are huge. So, unless your business is ready to write off 35 to 50 percent of the population, you better mind the volume.
It’s not only the ambient noise of the room such as electronic devices you have running such as, televisions, refrigerators, air-conditioners, and radios. The overall volume of workers and customers is an issue as well.
Remember many seniors use hearing aids which amplify all of these sounds. I personally know a number of seniors that won’t frequent certain establishments just because of the noise level. There are professionals that do acoustic consulting that can help you block and buffer noisy environments. Just remember that voices carry and the volume of people’s voices will ratchet up as you add TVs and other electronic equipment.
4. Physical Accommodations
Mobility and comfort are major considerations for seniors making purchasing decisions.
Pay attention to the accessibility of your of parking and entrances. Wider spaces can greatly improve navigation. Make enough room in corridors for walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. Consider chairs and tables that are easy to get in and out of and will support one’s body weight if they are being used as a brace to lift one’s self.
Train staff to recognize if a customer needs help getting seated, and how to properly help. Take into account the need for space to store canes and/or walkers. Be sure you have places to sit/rest. It is not uncommon for seniors to need time to catch their breath or rest up.
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