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Is your office prepared to accommodate an aging population?

Talk of an aging population isn’t idle chatter. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2030 will mark a significant turning point in the nation’s history. By then, all baby boomers will be older than 65. This means that one in every five residents will be retirement age. An aging population presents challenges from the standpoint of serving clients. Is your practice prepared?

Beyond the requirements

Although your office has already addressed accessibility as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are other steps you can and should take to accommodate older clients.

Here are a few places to focus.

  • Office entry. Are the doors that lead to your facility easy to open? Even if your doors have an accessibility button, elderly clients who do not have a disability may be reluctant to use the button. Bottom line: It shouldn’t require superhuman strength to open your office’s doors.
  • While you’re checking the doors, take note of any rugs or welcome mats that may be in or near the entry area. Do they tend to slip or roll up? If so, replace them or eliminate rugs altogether.
  • Client check-in. Review your client check-in area. Is there a counter or table at or near the window where a client can place a wallet or handbag as she looks for her identification?
  • If a client is required to fill out forms, is it clear what information is required? Is the type size large enough, so that it’s easy to read? Are the boxes large enough to enter required information? It goes without saying that you should also provide a pen and a clipboard.
  • Reception area. What is the seating like in your reception area? Is it sturdy and comfort height? Do chairs have arms, to facilitate sitting down and getting up?
  • Communication. When leaving phone messages, do you clearly state the purpose of your call and repeat the information? Do you always leave a callback number?
  • Are bills for services performed by your firm easy to read and understand? Take a look at an invoice with attention to information provided. Is it clear what the charge is for? Is there a number to call with any questions?
  • Also look at layout and type size. A number of top companies, including Verizon, have dramatically increased the type size used on their paper bills, to make it easier for customers to read and understand the charges.
  • When reviewing your office’s communication practices, ask yourself if your grandmother would be comfortable receiving a phone message like the ones you typically leave, or if she could clearly understand your standard invoice. If not, make the necessary changes.

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