CHAMBER NEWS: The business of aging

Columnist Patti Noonan focuses on being an age-friendly business

Did you know that more than 650,000 British Columbians are 65 or older and the post-war baby boomers began to turn 65 in 2011?

By 2031, that figure will have doubled and approximately 1.3 million British Columbians will be over 65 – almost a quarter of the province’s population.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce recently collaborated with the Ministry of Health to create a comprehensive guide that provides information on how to create an environment within businesses that is safe, comfortable and welcoming for seniors.

Many seniors have significant purchasing power and tend to be loyal customers, and the guide was implemented to support both businesses and the customers they serve.

Creating an Age-Friendly Business in B.C. is designed to help new and existing business owners ensure their business is respectful of the needs of older customers and includes ideas on how to better serve older customers in terms of safety, comfort, visibility and clarity and respect; examples of what other businesses have done to become more age-friendly; and an assessment tool to help operators determine if their business is age-friendly and learn how to make some simple improvements

Signs of a business that is age-friendly include:

Wider aisles

Staff is available to offer assistance

Uncluttered aisles that can accommodate walkers and wheelchairs

Clear signage – large print helps too.

Easy to open doors

Good lighting – no dark corners

Staff is aware of the needs and challenges faced by older customers

As a partner in the City of Armstrong’s Age-Friendly Community initiative, the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce will be working with Pinnacle Organizational Performance Solutions, the consulting firm that is contracted to oversee the city’s community engagement process.

On Wednesday, at the next Business-4-Breakfast, chamber of commerce members will have the opportunity to learn more about the age-friendly business concept.  Pinnacle will provide information specific to business owners, including the next steps in the consultation process.

Through this  process, the goal is to assist businesses in focusing on identifying and understanding the diverse needs of seniors and offers the opportunity for the business community in Armstrong to meet and support the needs of this important demographic group in the community.

Age-friendly businesses and communities support older adults so they may live active, engaged and independent lives.

New and existing businesses alike will benefit from creating an age-friendly environment as people of all ages and abilities benefit from better access to local businesses and facilities.

For more information or to download a copy of the guide Creating an Age-Friendly Business in B.C., go to  http://www.seniorsbc.ca/agefriendly/businesses/becoming_agefriendly.html

To attend the Business-4-Breakfast Wednesday, contact the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce  staff@aschamber.com

Patti Noonan is the executive director of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.