Firms Join State to Form Aging Leadership Coalition

Article excerpt

Recognizing that the impact of the age-65-and-older generation will be greater and greater in upcoming years, some Oklahoma businesses have joined with the state to form the Oklahoma Business and Aging Leadership Coalition.

About 100 businesses are members, working with the Special Unit on Aging of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

By the year 2000, people age 65 and over are expected to represent nearly 15 percent of the state's total population, according to the aging unit. People 50 or more years old have the largest amount of discretionary income and are correspondingly the biggest consumer group.

"With these trends facing America, the business that adapts its marketing strategies and service delivery to the needs and interests of older persons will more successfully face the challenges and demands of the future," according to information from the coalition.

Rita Pangborn, manager of community services with OG E Electric Services, is co-chair of the coalition, along with Jane Carney, gerontologist who teaches at Oklahoma City Community College.

Pangborn said OG E has had programs for senior citizens for many years, and she felt it was important to help other businesses recognize the potential for customers among that age group as well as how to interact with them.

"We want to help increase their awareness of the fact that the graying of America is taking place," she said. "By the year 2000 there are going to be more senior citizens than there are now, so it's going to be important for businesses _ whether it's from a customer standpoint or from the standpoint of an employee that is a caregiver to an elderly person."

Businesses that recruit or retain older workers stand to reap the positive benefits of improved work habits among younger workers; increased productivity and dependability; improved customer satisfaction and increased profits, according to coalition literature. …