Identifying the Seniors Population in Your Community: The Issue

Keeping up with the personal profile of your audience means tapping many sources of knowledge about seniors. For Example:

The federal government and each provincial/territorial government has at least one agency devoted to seniors’ issues and concerns. Many of them publish reports, newsletters and other material to help you keep your knowledge current. Libraries and online research will reveal these information sources and many more. (See the resources at the end of the publication.) Statistics Canada is an excellent source of information about the number and proportion of seniors in your community and their personal characteristics, including cultural background and mother tongue, education and income levels.

Seniors’ organizations and groups serving seniors (at the local, provincial/territorial and national levels) are another valuable source of information by and about seniors. Who better to tell you about the audience you want to reach than seniors themselves?

Many professional organizations (doctors, nurses, social workers, long-term care workers, pharmacists, opticians, dietitians, lawyers) and specialized agencies (CNIB, etc.) publish information to help their members serve an older clientele.

You can also conduct research yourself.
For example:

  • Appoint an advisory committee of clients, customers or members of your target audience before beginning to develop a new communication approach or information product. This technique can work equally well for health and social services providers or for associations of merchants, restaurants or shopping mall tenants.
  • Test a communication approach or information product with a focus group of seniors. A local seniors’ centre or advocacy group could help.
  • The same seniors’ centre or advocacy group might agree to conduct a "senior friendliness" assessment of your facilities, business or service.
    Or conduct your own, using the Senior FriendlyT Toolkit from the Alberta Council on Aging (see the resource list.)
  • Survey current customers or clients to see how successful you’ve been in communicating. Ask them for suggestions about their preferred method of receiving information, how you could improve your materials, and what changes would help make your facilities or services more senior friendly.

The cost of these audience research and testing techniques could save you from costly mistakes in the design of your message or the choice of medium – with implications for your bottom line, whether you’re striving for commercial success or running a public sector agency trying to do more with less.

Retrieved January 2009 From Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Resources

Seniors in Canada 2006 Report Card

Portrait of Seniors in Canada 2006