What is an age and dementia friendly business?
An age and dementia friendly business is one in which people of all ages and abilities can comfortably shop or access services. It is a business that has taken steps to be more inclusive of people of all ages and abilities.
Why should my business become Age & Dementia Friendly?
- Older adults are a growing market.
- Currently over 32% of Cape Ann residents are aged 60 and older (Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative 2018 Data Report). By 2035 this number is projected to grow, older adults are expected to account for nearly 45% of Cape Ann’s population and at least half the population in Gloucester and Rockport will be 60 or older. (Vintage Population Projections, Donahue Institute, UMASS)
- Older adults are a growing economic force, according to AARP, $0.56 of every dollar spent in the US came from someone 50 or older (The Longevity Economy Outlook, AARP). On average, consumers over age 50 outspend any other age group.
- People are living longer, healthier lives, which means they continue to work and contribute to the economy longer.
- At a time when small businesses need increased sales, tapping into this growing older adult consumer base is critical.
- Older adults often shop earlier than other customers, boosting customer numbers during the traditionally less busy times of day.
- Changes that benefit and improve the experience for older customers are good for all customers.
- Changes such as wider aisles or automatic doors not only help older adults, they are great for parents with young children in strollers, people living with disabilities, or customers carrying bundles.
- Well-lit signage with clear font makes it possible for people of all ages to read signs more easily.
- Clear websites that are easy to navigate benefit all.
- Established procedures for the delivery of goods allow businesses to remain nimble in the face of an unexpected weather or health emergency and benefit all.
- Making Age and Dementia Friendly changes can be easy and affordable.
- Many changes that would make your business more accessible to older customers are simple to make with the right information
- Changes can be made using already existing resources
- Small changes using resources already on hand are available and can make a big impact for older adults
- This guide is intended to give you a better understanding of your older customers, that understanding is free!
- Promote products, services, and business features that could be of interest to older adults in your advertising.
- Make your marketing materials more inclusive. Include older adults in ads featuring customers using products/services.
- Information should be provided in numerous ways, including online, print, radio/television
- Make sure your print and web ads reach older adults. Place them in publications and websites older adults are more likely to read
- Provide print materials, such as menus or cost schedules for other services, both online and in print. Some older people don’t have regular access to a computer. Allow for orders to be made by phone or in person.
- Make key information easy to find for everyone. Repeat your business name, address, hours, and contact information on every page.
- Navigation bars should be prominently placed on each page. Avoid complicated menus or drop-downs.
- Include zoom controls or text resize buttons clearly on every page.
- Design your site with older computers in mind. Be careful about using too much audio/video or flash elements.
- Clearly highlight key information.
- Use simple language that can be understood by the broadest range of consumers.
- Use sans serif type fonts such as Helvetica and Calibri which don’t have small features at the end of their strokes. The decorative strokes can be harder to read in small sizes.
- Always use 12 point font or higher when possible.
- Leave 1 inch margins and white space between lines of texts.
- Use vivid colors, avoid pale pastel shades.
- Create high contract between text and background; avoid using similar colors on text and background as they can blend together when viewed.
- Use simple, clear designs without too much decoration that can detract from key information.
Older adults may experience changes in vision and/or hearing. About 1 in 3 older adults have a hearing impairment. Older adults also need about 3 times as much light as they did when they were younger. Keeping these age-related changes in mind, you can improve the experience not just older adults but all customers.
- Avoid loud music, loud background music can be overwhelming and make it difficult to have conversations or hear announcements.
- Consider having music free or reduced music during times when older customers are more likely to shop or dine.
- Consider the type of music played and whether it will be appealing to all age groups
- Dedicate certain areas of your business as “quiet areas” such as tables in quieter sections of a restaurant
- Lighting should be bright and uniform, avoid dark spaces
- Assure that lighting is adequate throughout the business, especially in entrances, exits, and hallways
- Include direct light over areas where reading or other visually demanding tasks take place.
- Cut down on glare by using shades in windows and/or filtered lighting.
- Install lightweight or automatic doors if possible. If doors are glass they should be clearly marked.
- Make sure exterior doors, interior doors, halls, and aisles are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.
- Aisles should be kept clear and wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.
- Ensure that some seating areas can accommodate a wheelchair.
- Install a ramp if possible.
- Provide resting or seating areas near entrances, if possible. When creating seating areas, assure that at least some seats/benches have arms to assist with standing from the seated position.
- Provide publicly accessible bathrooms if possible. Include at least one bathroom that is wheelchair-accessible, including wide stall and sink/hand dryer at proper height.
- Consider having a gender neutral bathroom large enough to accommodate an individual and a caregiver, this benefits older adults and families.
- Clearly mark stairs, inclines, any changes in floor elevation, or obstacles
- Lighting in stairways should be bright and uniform
- Keep the entire width of sidewalk in front of your business free of leaves, snow or other debris; clearing only a single pathway is not enough for a wheelchair/walker, and companion providing assistance
- Floors should be non-slip and kept clean and dry
- Remove throw rugs or other items that might pose tripping hazards
- Clean up spills or puddles immediately to prevent slipping
- Handrails should be installed where needed
- Signage should be kept consistent in design so it’s easy to identify
- Keep information simple, essential, and clear
- Use simple, large lettering and universal symbols (e.g., bathroom men/women symbol), avoid abstract images
- Clear color contrast between text and background, avoid using similar colors on text and background as they can blend together when viewed.
- Hang signs at eye level when possible and make sure they are well lit
- Create a contrast between signs and the surfaces to which they are mounted so they are easily recognized as a sign
- If possible, affix signs to the doors they refer to rather than adjacent surfaces
- Place products within reach on shelves or offer help reaching items.
- Keep aisles clear as much as possible during restocking.
Good customer service can make all the difference and guarantee loyal customers. Positive shopping experiences translate into better engagement with products and services and increased spending and customer loyalty.
- Encourage employees to speak clearly but not to use a tone that is exaggerated or overly simple words when speaking to older customers, this can be interpreted as “senior-speak” or talking down.
- Don’t shout or speak overly loud to customers who seem to have difficulty understanding.
- Train staff not to assume hearing loss or raise their voice above a normal level when speaking to older customers.
- Train staff to lower the pitch of their voice when speaking to someone who has difficulty hearing instead of raising their voice. Lower pitched voices tend to be heard more clearly.
- Train staff to speak to older adult customers rather than deferring to their companions or caregivers.
- Assure that the business is easily accessible by telephone and calls are answered by a person
- Assure systems are in place for customers to be able to make delivery orders online, by phone, or in person.
- Staff members and elected officials are trained on dementia-related matters
- Train staff to be aware of and assist those with vision and hearing challenges
- Encourage staff to be respectful and patient with all customers and give staff the option to provide extra customer service as they see fit.
- Train employees to respect the tastes and/or preferences of all customers, regardless of age.
- Train staff to recognize signs that someone needs physical or medical assistance
- Train staff to recognize signs that someone is being physically, emotionally, or financially abused.
- Provide training on how to handle incidents such as falls or medical needs while preserving customers’ dignity as much as possible
- Make sure staff are available to help read product labels, get products down from shelves or offer other directions.
- Offer assistance with carry-out of purchases when possible.
- If you don’t normally offer delivery, consider offering it on a case-by-case basis to those that need it.
- Develop a plan for an anticipated or unforeseen disaster and consider the needs of older people and how your services and products might help to meet this need.
- Train staff on dementia-related matters