How to Make Your Events More Inclusive & Age-Friendly

With more than 70,000 residents age 60 and older, the City of Cleveland is a proud member of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. Two essential domains of becoming an age-friendly community are respect/social inclusion and social participation. These two age friendly domains allow for all ages and abilities to participate and feel welcomed in community activities and businesses.

How to Make Events More Inclusive
Cleveland’s Department of Aging created a checklist with tips on how to make your events more inclusive. Two simple changes to make your event or business more age-friendly is to increase seating and make access to bathrooms easy.  Older adults shared with us that limited seating and bathrooms that are not in close proximity to the event are two of the biggest barriers to participation.   

Additionally, the Cleveland Department of Aging is partnering with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Cleveland to certify businesses as age-friendly.  The process includes a site evaluation which reviews a business’s physical environment, staff and personnel, marketing and customer experience. Suggestions and feedback are provided to help make informed changes.  For example, displays and products scattered throughout an aisle can make it difficult for those who use assistance devices.  By reducing the amount or relocating some of these items, it could make it easier for people to navigate through your business or venue.  

Increase Awareness of Common Challenges
In addition to the site evaluation, a business that becomes certified will receive an age and disability sensitivity training for their staff.  Providing basic sensitivity training to staff, volunteers and vendors can provide them with a better understanding and awareness of common challenges older adults and those with disabilities face. This can go a long way in making guests and customers feel respected, included and receiving better customer service.  Becoming an age-friendly certified business helps meet and exceed customer’s needs.  

Nearly 40% of Americans 65 and over live with at least one disability. This makes accommodating their needs a crucial priority. Becoming certified is also good for business! Once certified, a business will be featured online in Better Business Bureau’s Age-Friendly Business Directory, receive recognition at various City of Cleveland Senior Events,  and will receive a window cling and certificate to display your commitment to being age-friendly. Being seen as a business that is committed to improving your customer’s experience by becoming certified can be an effective marketing tool and help with retaining customers.  

As a business owner, it is important to note that older adults have buying power! Adults aged 50+ control 71% of the nation’s wealth and account for 51% of consumer spending.  Becoming an age-friendly business is a win-win situation for both the owner and customer. 

More information on the how to apply to become an Age Friendly Business can be found on Cleveland’s Better Business Bureau website

Thanks to Angela Niemiec, Aging Services Administrator/Age Friendly Cleveland, City of Cleveland for providing this helpful information. You can reach Angela at aniemiec@city.cleveland.oh.us.