There’s not just an ethical or moral case to be made for making communities more age-friendly — there’s a strong economic case for it, too.
The average person might guess that attracting young, upwardly mobile adults and families to an area would drive its economic growth. But, if you think about it in terms of available wealth, that’s an assumption based on a fundamental misunderstanding: young people typically don’t have wealth.
Who does? Older people. They’ve worked decades and built their savings. They’ve invested in their retirement. They’ve purchased and held assets like land, homes, collectibles and other high value items.
They also tend to have far less debt than younger adults. Seniors aren’t typically upside-down on their mortgages. They’re not managing student loan payments. They’ve usually paid off their vehicles. Most aren’t financially supporting their children any longer.
The result? Seniors, who have managed their wealth well and prepared themselves for retirement, have more disposable income.
They also have a lifetime of developed skills to draw on. Some new retirees parlay those skills into “encore” careers or businesses. They have available funds to lend new entrepreneurs. And they often volunteer their time and energy to mentor younger professionals.
Seniors — not families — are usually the primary drivers of economic growth in a community.
So, how can businesses capitalize on that? How can you make your business more age-friendly, and attract seniors’ patronage? Let’s talk about that today.
1. Make Your Business more Discoverable to Seniors
Older people are more apt to research products and services that they’re interested in. How are you marketing to them? How are you making your business visible to them?
It’s a misconception to think that older people aren’t Internet-savvy. They are.
Think about it: those who reached 65 years old in 2017 were 35 years old in 1987. They were in their late 40s at the end of the Dot Com bubble. They’ve been full participants in the Digital Revolution. They certainly understand email.
Some of the older members of the Baby Boom generation might be less engaged on social media, but its younger members are increasingly using social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. You should be optimizing your business’s social media content and digital marketing to speak to them.
2. Don’t Fail to Consider (and Hire!) Older Job Candidates
Again, Americans are living longer and working longer than ever before. Many are healthy, qualified, capable and want to keep working long after the “official” retirement age.
Some want to double-dip (draw their pension or retirement funds, while continuing to bring in new income). Some are worried about feeling bored in their retirement and want to continue to feel useful. And some just want to do something different after working so many years in their original field.
Why aren’t you interviewing them? They may seem “overqualified” relative to younger candidates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to command higher wages — especially if they’re not dependent on new income to make ends meet.
Most younger adults today do not stick with one company, or even in one career, for the majority of their working lives, so there’s no case to be made for hiring with an eye toward longevity, either.
Paradoxically, hiring healthy 60-somethings, who might be more willing to remain with you and make a go of it in business downturns, might yield you a lower labor turnover rate and help you weather the low points of the business cycle.
And, remember, older co-workers often have professional insights, developed over the course of a long career, th
at could help your business become even more successful!
3. Make Brick-and-Mortar Locations Safe and Accessible
Are your sidewalks clear, even and well-maintained? Are your business’s doors difficult for someone with limited strength or mobility to open? Are displays and aisles easy for someone with visual impairment or physical impairments to see and navigate?
It’s not just the law that businesses ensure accessibility — it’s a best practice. Why deny potential customers, with disposable income and a willingness to purchase your goods and services, access to your storefront?
Check to ensure doors are wide enough for a person to pass through when using a wheelchair or a walker. Install non-slip flooring and curbramps. Make sure your doors’ automatic closers aren’t set to a high resistance. if you can, install door-opening sensors, faucet sensors, flush sensors and grab bars in corridors and restrooms.
Make sure, too, that your business is well lit within and without. Pay attention to font size and spacing on price tags, signage, displays, menus and other printed materials.
And make sure your lot has ample parking for people with physical impairments. it might be nice to designate close-up parking spaces for veterans, or for any senior (even those who don’t have a state-issued disability parking permit) to use.
Help ERS to make Cincinnati one of the most age-friendly cities in the nation.
Our President and CEO, Laura Lamb, believes strongly that we must fight ageism if we are to help Cincinnati regain its status as one of the most livable cities in America.
You — and your business — can become key allies in our efforts to spur an age-friendly movement here in the Tristate. Use the tips above to make your business more senior-friendly.
Together, we can make the Queen City a better place for everybody, seniors included.