Summary: Age-Friendly Communication: Facts, Tips and Ideas

Communicating with seniors presents the same opportunities and challenges as communicating with any other large and evolving audience. If the advice in this publication can be summed up in a few sentences, it is:

  • Think broadly when you think about communicating—almost everything you do as a service provider or business owner communicates your attitude toward your older customers and clients. Unintentional messages can be just as powerful as deliberately planned communication. As the Alberta Council on Aging says, senior friendliness is an attitude based on considering seniors' needs and respecting seniors' contributions. It's a matter of common sense and good manners.
  • Don't try to persuade seniors you're doing them a favour. Embrace senior-friendly communication because it is logical and makes sense for your program objectives or your bottom line: seniors bring their business to senior-friendly stores and businesses, and they're loyal customers when they're well served.
  • Know your audience, keep your knowledge up to date, and look to the members of your audience to tell you about their information needs and preferences. Design communication with your clients and customers—not for them.
  • Think about the advantages and drawbacks of each communication medium as a means of reaching a senior audience and design communications that seize the advantages while avoiding the pitfalls.
  • Find out about the communication concepts and design approaches that work best with senior audiences.
  • Ensure a good match between your audience, your message and the medium you use to convey it.
  • Explore other formats (braille, large print, audio or video versions on CD/DVD, and others) and innovative strategies for reaching senior audiences (social networks, community contacts, trusted advisers, key informants).
  • Demand action from governments and other administrations and social institutions. Communicating effectively with seniors makes sense from society's perspective: well-informed seniors are healthier, more active and involved, and can live in their own homes longer—so their quality of life is better.
  • Seniors have time, energy and insight born of life experience—they're a valuable asset to a society that respects them and takes the time to think about effective ways of reaching out to them.
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