Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Businesses Become Sensitive to Seniors

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Businesses Become Sensitive to Seniors

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA - Banks and other businesses are more sensitive than ever before about good relations with seniors, and today are training e mployees to deal with that growing group of customers.

""Before the training I never took notice of people waiting in line for a teller,'' said Sue DeBlieck, 23, a customer service representative for American Bank in Reading, Pa., who walked with kernels of corn in her shoes, stuffed cotton in her ears and smeared Vaseline on her glasses to similate problems that affect the elderly.

""It made me aware that many people have difficulty walking, seeing and hearing,'' she said in praising her participation in a recent national pilot training program on how to deal with the older customer. ""Now when I see a person with a cane, or walking a little slower, I try to help them much swifter than before.''

Meridian Bank, which operates American in the Reading area, Central Penn in Philadelphia and its suburbs, and the First National Bank of Allentown, Pa., is the first in the nation to test the special training program sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons and the American Bankers Association.

""Seniors are a portion of the bank's customers which has often been overlooked or perhaps not serviced in a way they ought to be serviced because we haven't been aware of their specific banking needs because of their condition,'' said Linda Evans, a bank marketing officer who is supervising the Meridian training.

Patricia Hoarth, American Association of Retired Persons director of consumer affairs, noted that people over 65 today comprise about 11 percent, or more than 28 million, of America's population, and that four-fifths of them have some kind of impairment. ""This is the largest growing group in the country,'' she said. ""We urge the smart older customer to shop banks and find those that will assist them with their problems. …

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