Age-friendly features for stores, offices

Being mindful of seniors can boost your business too

Longtime local resident Chuck Shaw MacLaren, front right, is a regular face and voice at South Cariboo AGE FRIENDLY Initiative functions. The local senior, who is dealing with recently-acquired disabilities, is also an important voice on the initiative’s 16-person steering committee.

Longtime local resident Chuck Shaw MacLaren, front right, is a regular face and voice at South Cariboo AGE FRIENDLY Initiative functions. The local senior, who is dealing with recently-acquired disabilities, is also an important voice on the initiative’s 16-person steering committee.

How to offer an age-friendly business in 100 Mile House while reaping the resulting benefits was the topic of a recent lunch meeting held by the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce (SCCC).

The main presentation by South Cariboo AGE-FRIENDLY Initiative community co-ordinator Lea Smirfitt highlighted some ways to bring in business, while companies support older residents and people with low mobility, hearing or vision challenges.

These ideas include examining numerous ways to make a business more attractive to seniors; a potential for groceries and medications to be delivered; and offering seniors’ discount days.

She said people will notice your improvements, shop there more often and share their experience with others.

The initiative’s growing contact list of local seniors could facilitate getting the word out about easy, age-friendly places to shop, Smirfitt explained.

She added the many possibilities can magnify the small-town, caring attitude to attract “a lot more” business.

Guest speaker

Chuck Shaw-MacLaren, who is on the initiative’s steering committee, talked to the business group about his own experiences in accessing local businesses.

A senior with disabilities, he made suggestions for actions that could make a difference in getting around – in or out of a wheelchair – some of which businesses could jointly contribute to and benefit from.

His ideas include:

• providing more indoor seating, with armrests to aid in getting back up again;

• having loaner wheelchairs and walkers available for folks who have difficulty bringing their own into town;

• highlighting these and other age-friendly features in business advertising; and

• improving doors (taking wind into account) and aisle ways for ease of mobility.

He also talked about his recent idea for getting a new seniors’ condominium near downtown. MacLaren said he is seeking relevant information and what level of interest there might be, and asking businesses to hand out his related flyers.

Other suggestions

Smirfitt said training staff to politely offer help to customers struggling with doors or store layouts is often appreciated.

Staff should also speak slowly and clearly, and signs and advertising designed to aid reading with poor vision, she added.

Smirfitt also suggested checking secure railings exist at stairs, that carpets lay flat, and having private areas for sharing personal information (even names and addresses).

SCCC executive director Shelly Morton noted an available $5,000 grant for business facade renovations might cover replacing heavy doors with more manageable entrances. (More information is online at www.100milehouse.com/news-and-events.)

 

100 Mile House Free Press

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