Almost 15% of the population in Canada is over age 65. In Kawartha Lakes 22% are seniors. Those numbers have lead to an initiative to create an age friendly business strategy for the community.
At a special council meeting on Tuesday, councillors heard how creating a community that caters to seniors could help local businesses and residents as well.
The Age-friendly Business program (AFBP) will provide education, support and recognition to businesses in the City of Kawartha Lakes to help them enhance their business practices to create an atmosphere that enables older adults to access their goods and services.
A steering committee looking into the issue connected with over 40 businesses and 340 older adults to find out what they are looking for. Seniors said the top five things that would encourage them to choose one business over another are:
- Seniors Discounts
- Places to sit and rest
- Large print signage
- A person on the other end of the line
They heard businesses would like:
- To be recognized on social media
- Recognition that older adults are their customer base
- To increase this customer demographic
Some businesses are already jumping on board council heard.
One local grocery store formed a partnership with a local Community Support Service to provide rides one afternoon per week to the store, they include a magnifying glass in each isle to help customers read signs and they provide delivery.
An area restaurant serves senior specials with smaller portion sizes, provides chairs with arms that are steady and easy to use and conducts staff training that addresses appropriate communication skills, such as speaking clearly and at an appropriate speed. They even provide menus and bills with large print so they are easier to read.
A retail store offers help in carrying packages out to customers’ cars, has eliminated background music, holds a monthly seniors’ day and provides a chair for customers to sit and rest.
“Businesses are recognizing the economic impact of older adults and are taking steps to be more accommodating to this age group,” commented Lisa Hughes, Project Coordinator for the Age-friendly Business Engagement Strategy.
The group is looking for money from council to hire a coordinator to implement the project, provide ongoing support with the webpage and help secure future funding.