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Brief Published: 25 Jul 2018

US Cities Push for Age-Friendly Businesses

The global population aged over 60 is expected to double by 2050

By 2035, Americans aged 65-plus will outnumber children – accounting for 23.5% of the population, compared with 15% today (US Census, 2018). Readying for this demographic shift, savvy cities are pushing local businesses to understand and adopt age-friendly practices.

These include training staff about ageism and respectful communication, creating accessible and safe spaces with clear signage and good lighting, and ensuring materials (menus, for example) are easy to read.

Portland, Oregon – where over-65s will increase by 106% to more than 500,000 by 2030 (AARP, 2018) – has launched the Age-Friendly Business Awards. These are supported by AARP, a US non-profit working to empower people aged 50 and up.

Boston's new Age and Dementia-Friendly Business designation offers qualifying local businesses certificates and decals to advertise their inclusive policies. Boston is aiming to become the best US city for older adults within three years. Other cities, including Columbus, Ohio, are creating age-friendly business directories.

America's ageing population mirrors the global trend: the 60-plus cohort worldwide is expected to double by 2050 (United Nations, 2017). Catering to this population is becoming a business imperative, requiring meaningful understanding about the limitations and realities of ageing.

Many improvements, like using larger fonts, are easily implemented. Chinese e-commerce brand Taobao's senior-friendly app is a good example of how to appeal to members of the ageing population who are keen to participate in the digital economy.

For standout strategies on senior-friendly store design and inclusive services, see Empathetic Brand Engagement. Refer to the Silver Settlers section of New Metropolitans to explore how ageing cities are giving brands opportunities to create new business models.

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