Dr. Judith Davey
My previous blog looked at Age-Friendly retailing from the customers’ point of view, reporting on the views of older shoppers. Various countries and urban centres have developed guidelines and checklists aimed at retail businesses to encourage age friendliness, offering them no-cost and low-cost tips to engage with this growing market. Some of the good ideas are looked at below, coming from the City of Joondalup in Australia and Wales in the UK . Again your comments and suggestions are welcomed.
Marketing materials should be attractive and inclusive, including older people in images promoting products or services (without stereotyping them – like always showing photos of young-old couples, ignoring the fact that the majority of older people, especially women, are unpartnered). The design of marketing materials should aim to be
easy to read with plenty of space, high contrast colours, 12-point font or higher and in simple language to
ensure the message is clear to a broad audience.
Promote your business as age-friendly, offering senior discounts, which could be linked to the Super Gold Card.
Retail premises should be well and evenly lit, especially entrances, exits and hallways. It should be a quiet environment avoiding outside noise and, if music is used, ensuring this is from different eras and styles. Some useful market research could be done to see what pleases older shoppers. Audio loops will assist customers with hearing aids at service counters. Regular “quiet hours” for shoppers are a good idea.
Access Safety, comfort, and visibility
There needs to be clear signage in and around businesses, clearly marking stairs and inclines, ensuring that
pathways and car parks are clearly lit and physically accessible. Cars parks reserved for seniors should be provided and well-marked as well as “disability” spaces.
There should be sturdy handrails in staircases, lifts and ramps, Doors should not be heavy and ideally automatic, allowing time for people with walkers and wheelchairs to safely come in and out.
Floors should be smooth and non-slip. Mats should be level and edges secure so that they do not create a tripping hazard. Edges of rugs can be secured to guard against tripping.
Ensure that service desks are clearly visible so people can ask for help. At least one counter should be accessible for customers using wheelchairs and scooters. Ask for feedback from older customers – What do they like about your business? Do they experience any issues or barriers with staff, products, or environment?
I have written earlier about making environments dementia friendly and this is also an aspect of Age-Friendly retail.
It is very important that retail staff are aware of dementia and Alzheimer’s and how it effects people. They need to offer understanding and reassurance, speaking clearly and calmly, letting the customers take their time and responding to them if they appear to be having difficulty. If someone forgets what you’ve said, repeat it as if you were saying it for the first time. If someone isn’t sure or can’t remember how to do something, offer to do it with them rather than doing it for them.
Visual clues are useful for examples of product options and colour contrast in interior design will help people living with dementia to navigate the business. Additional assistance should be available if someone seems unable to read signs or written information.
There is further information on the Office for Senior website on becoming an age-friendly business.
In addition, the Age-friendly Business initiative. linked in with the World Health Organisation provides practical information to help businesses become more age-friendly and attract older customers. In collaboration with Alzheimer’s Association, a module on dementia provides information on the detection, treatment and promotion of autonomy for customers with dementia. Participating businesses receive a window sticker with the slogan “We are friendly” and they will be included in an Age-Friendly Business Guide and in the web-based Age-Friendly Places Map.