Is your Club Age-Friendly?
This resource aims to assist clubs to provide a welcoming, supportive environment for all people, and especially those in later life so everyone can participate in being physically active.
Is Our Club Age-friendly?
Do we offer a range of experiences and activities, including some that will appeal to people without much experience, confidence or physical ability?
Being a nature-based club you might meet up with club members in all different kinds of natural environments. Some may be more physically accessible to newcomers than others.
Do you have a person designated to specifically ‘welcoming’ new people?
This would be a perfect opportunity for a friendly Senior volunteer who is familiar with your recreation, and can offer an invaluable service to both the club and the seniors interested in connecting.
Also think about possible language barriers. There are many isolated Seniors in Victoria who don’t speak much English. Do any of your members speak another language? This could be a great opportunity for them to involve the elders in their community.
Do new people feel accepted?
- Engage that particularly ‘welcoming’ member/s of your club to engage to each new participant on a one-to-one level.
- Give them some follow up guidelines if they need help.
- Give all participants the opportunity to provide feedback, in person or anonymously, about their experience.
- Do you have some form of follow-up policy when new people try out your recreation?
- It can be daunting for most of us to try new things. A kind word of encouragement from someone at the club via a phone call could go a long way.
Do you offer any short introductory classes or courses?
Introductory classes are a great way to get participants to try out your recreation, especially if they are free or discounted. For seniors these sessions are possibly even more valuable as they may serve to address more reservations they might have about participating.
- Offer some easy to digest information on what you provide.
- It might be an information afternoon with a cup of tea and some cake.
- Prepare some answers to anticipated questions.
- Offer stories of people, seniors can relate to.
- If you want to encourage new members try going to them.
- Would you consider offering really short tailor made introductory sessions for older people?
Do you have a social aspect to your recreation?
What better ice-breaker than a cup of tea or a beer and a chance to chat after a lesson?
If your recreation is usually very competitive would you consider modifying the rules to make it less so for specific groups?
This might be a good opportunity to be creative as a club. Listen to your members and find out ways to have fun.
How aware are you and your members of injury prevention and management.
You don’t need any specific first aid training to welcome seniors to your club. Still, it is important to know that seniors are more vulnerable to accidents and injuries.
Below is a guide you might refer to when preparing to welcome seniors to your club:
- Are your instructions, written and spoken, clear, simple, and understood by all?
People over 65 have a higher risk of falling due to a number of factors. Taking care to limit the possibility of a fall is one of the best ways to prepare against injury.
This updated resource, whilst published in the US is a comprehensive guide to how you might go about creating an age-friendly environment, in terms of preventing falls. It even has form letters you could adapt for your own needs in order to apply for grants.
Queensland Health has an initiative ‘Stay on Your Feet’ which provides a checklist for seniors to consider to prevent falls. This checklist could also be adapted by clubs as a framework for understanding the health of individuals before participating.
Is there public transport near to where your recreation usually takes place?
A little bit of helpful timetable research could be all that is required.
Do you have any members who might be prepared to organise car pooling or pick ups for new members who might not have a car?
Or are there so many new members you need a bus!
Are all my club members prepared to be age-friendly in their attitude?
- Enjoyment, meeting new people and new challenges are major draw cards for older people.
- Build relationships between older people and key people in your club.
- Be welcoming and hospitable to older people and not patronising.
- Consult older people about their interests and needs.
- Physical activity can be competitive or non-competitive depending on the needs of older people.
- Activities may need to be modified to increase enjoyment but key skills and challenges should still be an important part of any activity.
- Build a network and share your ideas and resources.
Why do older people want to get involved in sport and physical activity?
Older people get involved for a variety of reasons. If you understand the potential reasons for their getting involved, it will make it easier for you to attract older people. When thinking about the benefits for older people to be part of your club or group, ensure you can provide these core opportunities:
- meeting new people. This is a major reason for older people give for joining a group. You can encourage this by providing a social aspect which could mean refreshments after classes or events
- having fun is another major reason to participate
- improving health/fitness
- enjoying challenges from rewarding activities
- being accepted as part of a team
- reducing stress
How can older people participate in your club or activity?
Just like anybody else, of course! As with any other group of people, older people have a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. Some can probably ski / paddle / climb better than you can! Others may lack confidence due to fear of injury, or simple lack of experience. Some may not have been active outdoors since their own schooling, others have led a life of outdoor adventure.
Some people may want to participate:
- in a beginners’ group with regular coaching
- as an individual rather than as part of a team activity
- in training or practice rather than competition
- as a volunteer or spectator rather than a competitor
- with a range of other people whether by age group, gender or culture
- in activities that challenge in a range of ways not just physical
- by helping others to participate, or the club to grow
How best to communicate with older people
- Choose your words carefully when talking or communicating to older people. Special attention must be given to countering any negative age stereotypes. Actively identify and counter ageist stereotypes that exist in your club or members. Ageism does matter.
- Present a positive, yet realistic view of ageing. Recognise the range of backgrounds of older people. Expect and cater for difference in life experiences, skills, knowledge, values, and expectations.
- Humour is often very helpful in enabling people to relax and identify with others. But be careful, most people are now aware of the need to avoid sexist and racist jokes. The same is not true of ageism. Many damaging stereotypes are perpetuated in the name of humour.
- Many older people are of non-English speaking background and participate more confidently by using their first language even though they may have functional English. Try to bring in a club member who can speak the language of the person or group.
- Always listen to the older person. Seek to understand their concerns, questions, values. An open ended question rather than a yes/no is preferable.