Helping Anchorage businesses become more senior-friendly

Anchorage is joining many other cities across the nation in establishing a Senior Friendly Project aimed at improving the shopping experience of our older citizens. The reason for such a project, as stated by Mayor Dan Sullivan, is because, “There has been a 52 percent increase in our senior population in the past 10 years. Seniors as consumers contribute an estimated $1.46 billion into the state!”

This amount is increasing further as “baby boomers” are added annually to our population. The Senior Friendly Project will involve mystery shoppers who, at the request of management, will evaluate to what extent their businesses, clinics, restaurants and other establishments are “senior friendly.”

Training will be provided and a Senior Friendly decal issued for display. The business names will also be publicized in local media, and throughout the senior network.

The Anchorage Senior Friendly Project has been developed through the co-sponsorship of the Municipality of Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission and the Older Persons Action Group, with assistance from students of the UAA Human Services Department Adulthood and Aging Class.

Through collaborative efforts the campaign will assist the community and businesses to move toward a positive future of understanding the needs of an aging population, and increase profits for businesses and the community as well.

The intention of this project is to create a community that will maintain the dignity, independence and standard of living for all seniors. The goals are to provide an opportunity to improve customer service and access through specific recommendations, give businesses a marketing advantage, increase business visibility to older visitors and tourists, and establish a positive reputation among older consumers.

For more information contact Denise Knapp, Coordinator for the Project, at the Older Persons Action Group, 276-1059.

Jon Vander Weel is a UAA Human Services student and Senior Friendly Project volunteer.

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