Last year, Bristol joined the World Health Organisation’s Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in recognition of the city’s commitment to considering age-friendliness in all of its future planning.
Now, Bristol Ageing Better is reaching out to the private sector to help business owners understand the key considerations when it comes to ensuring older customers and clients are offered the same welcome and access as younger people.
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Ensuring your business is age-friendly is crucial for many reasons. We are living in a time when the world’s population is ageing rapidly. Increased life expectancy and decreasing birth rates mean that we are seeing a dramatic shift in age demographic. No longer will older people be a minority, and designing cities with younger people in mind, whilst having always been ethically short-sighted, will no longer make economic sense.
In 20 years’ time, the proportion of people in Bristol aged over 85 will have increased by 66 per cent. Businesses will need to adapt to this change; a larger number of customers will be of retirement age and there will be a likely increase in the numbers with reduced mobility, sensory loss, and health conditions that can create barriers to accessibility.
Ageism has become a hot topic recently, and rightly so; pervasive myths that fuel discrimination against older people include the idea that older people are a burden or that they have a negative impact on the economy. This is categorically untrue; older people are an asset to the UK economy, making a larger contribution than they receive in pensions and health and care services.
They play vital roles in caring and volunteering, and also hold significant spending power. The over-65s account for £1 of every £5 spent in the UK and as this number is only set to increase, it is crucial to businesses’ success that they reach the older market. For businesses that would like to recruit volunteers, older people are more likely than any other age group to donate their time.
If you would like to increase your reach and improve your welcome, no matter the size of your business, Bristol Ageing Better can provide advice and guidance on the kinds of changes you can implement.
This can be something as small as changing the font used for your marketing materials and signage to make it more readable, or as extensive as assessing the adaptations needed to make your venue fully accessible. You could also provide your staff with training to make them more confident in meeting the needs of people with impairments or conditions such as dementia.
There are also imaginative examples of ways in which you can increase your business’s community focus. Good examples include Mezzaluna’s regular speed dating event for residents of the local care home, and Clifton Exercise Club’s innovative use of space and equipment to create a sociable environment which helps their older members view exercise as a pleasure rather than a chore.
Find out more and request a free copy of the comprehensive age-friendly business toolkit by visiting www.agefriendlybristol.org.uk/business-toolkit or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bianca Rossetti is an age-friendly project officer for Bristol Ageing Better, a partnership of individuals and organisations working to ensure the city’s older residents are provided with the environment, services and opportunities needed to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life.
Read more: Making Bristol businesses more age-friendly