how to attract Reach and attract older
adults in the community
today’s Actuaries at the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services’ Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services say
healthcare spending in the nation will
exceed $2.8 trillion by 2011. This
spending will drive a larger part of the
U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)
than previously forecast.
Just where are healthcare dollars going?
“Chronic disease accounts for roughly
75% of healthcare costs each year,”
according to the Power of Prevention, a
program and policy perspective on the
Department of Health and Human
Services’ Steps to a Healthier US
program. The publication states that
more than 125 million North
26 The Journal on Active Aging • March April 2003
Americans now live with chronic identify your community’s needs and • Healthcare professionals;
conditions, which supports the Alliance decide which audience to target. Your • Therapists;
for Aging Research’s conclusion that programs will need to accommodate • Family members;
“[i]t is now chronic disease that poses a your community’s unique blend of • Caregivers;
threat to our nation’s health and people, organizations and needs. • Coworkers;
economic well-being.” • Friends; and/or
Ways of assessing community needs • Community organizations.
Those who provide fitness, health and • Find out how many people in your
wellness services have the opportunity community have an elevated risk for After you’ve identified your
and the expertise to help reduce this or suffer from specific health community’s needs and determined
financial burden by improving the conditions and where they live. Check your target audiences, consider forming
health of Americans. Both U.S. Surgeon with your local department on aging, partnerships with other associations and
General Richard Carmona and Health area agency on aging, social service organizations in your community to
and Human Services Secretary Tommy agency or planning agency for this avoid duplication of effort.
Thompson echoed these conclusions at information.
the 2003 Steps to a Healthier US Creating partnerships
summit, which took place in April. • Discover which groups or Partnerships expand the resources and
organizations exist for people with avenues available to you to reach your
As a health or wellness professional, these conditions and where they meet. target audiences. But before you create
how can you help people prevent, Ask community leaders about the best or seek partnerships, first identify what
manage and slow disease progression? ways to reach your target audience. resources your program needs (e.g.
One way is for you to heighten public facilities, staff, contacts, training in
awareness of the impact a healthier • Check into existing health promotion programming and assessments, and
lifestyle has on specific health risks and programs in your community. Contact funding), then pursue partners that can
conditions. Essentially, you can become your local health department, area help you meet these needs.
a healthy marketer. agency on aging, hospital and/or
clinic, as well as voluntary health Potential partners
Support the message organizations and professionals. If • Approach local businesses, social
of change other health promotion programs service and nonprofit organizations,
Health-based marketing works with the exist, collaborate with them to send a civic and volunteer groups,
50-plus population. The Medical strong message of community. associations or fraternities and
Fitness Association’s membership and sororities for assistance. These groups
demographic surveys show that older Target audiences may donate funds, provide volunteers
adults consistently rank improving health Determine which audiences to target. or offer in-kind services (i.e. printing).
as the primary reason for joining a
hospital wellness center and maintaining Your primary audience consists of those • Solicit help from local chapters of
health as the second most important you most want to reach. Does your national organizations that support
reason. This marketing approach can primary audience have any or all of the health observances. These groups may
also cost little. The many national following characteristics: have already organized events or
health observances throughout the year planned to participate in activities. By
gain massive visibility and provide • People with health issues relating to forming partnerships with these
fitness/wellness facilities with your campaign, i.e. heart disease, groups, you will add to your
opportunities to build weekly or diabetes, hypertension or poor credibility and knowledge.
monthly campaigns around health issues nutrition;
(see “Healthy marketing calendar: some • Adults aged 50 or above; or • Form a committee to get your facility
key national observances” on page 32 • Individuals with a particular income started. Choose individuals committed
for examples). level. to helping and able to provide
expertise or contacts.
Choose the right campaigns Your secondary audience includes those
To create successful health-based who can influence those at risk:
programs, you must first assess and
Continued on page 30
The Journal on Active Aging • March April 2003 27
Healthy messages: marketing to
today’s older adult Continued from page 27
Other possible partners addition to the general types of activities Worksites
• Contact prominent businesses in your and promotion suggested in the sections • Set up information centers in
community about how your program below, brainstorm about other activities workplace cafeterias or fitness/wellness
fits with their health education for that would work well in your centers.
employees. Ensure you talk to the community.
occupational health officer or benefits • Approach employers about
manager. Business activities distributing your brochures at annual
• Suggest that a shopping mall host a employee health fairs and pre-
• Approach religious institutions, which health fair. Ask for room to put up an retirement planning seminars.
traditionally provide community exhibit or a Q&A booth (or table) on
service, volunteers and access to a particular health issue. Keep a record • Request that unions distribute your
elusive populations. of people who visit your exhibit or materials to members at higher risk
booth, so you can send them each a for disease.
• Reach your audience through senior follow-up card. Remind these
centers, senior meal sites, meals-on- individuals that participating in • Contact employers about creating
wheels programs and college campus physical activity at your facility could incentives to encourage higher-risk
programs for seniors. improve their condition. employees to participate in your
• Connect with health professionals, • Request that local businesses display
such as family physicians and nurses, posters or distribute brochures about • Speak to the occupational health nurse
at their workplaces or through your program. or employee benefits manager about
professional associations. Contact your program’s fit with an employee
health maintenance organizations • Approach supermarkets, drugstores health education or benefits program.
(HMOs) and community hospitals and other retailers about distributing
through their departments of patient your brochures at their counters and Healthcare settings
education and public relations. Also, printing messages about your program • Supply your brochures to healthcare
hospital auxiliary groups could on their receipts, bags or bag stuffers. professionals, so they can give them to
potentially provide volunteers. their patients.
• Ask utility companies and financial
Besides support and assistance, institutions to include printed • Inquire at your local pharmacy about
partnerships will often provide messages about your program with displaying your program brochure and
additional ways to reach your target their bills and statements. putting inserts in prescription bags for
audience. Another way to expand your people with that specific health
marketing reach is through your • Talk to managers of fast-food condition. Request that they print
activities. restaurants about printing messages messages on prescription receipts.
about your program on their tray
Offer activities for outreach liners. • Collaborate with coordinators of local
Connect with members of your target health education programs and
audience through places they shop, • See if your local supermarket will support groups to incorporate
work, worship, socialize, obtain sponsor a nutritional tour for people messages about your program into
healthcare and access information. To with health issues. their existing programs.
raise awareness of your program, you
can hang posters and display or • Solicit printed materials from local • Give reminder notices to healthcare
distribute brochures. And by businesses with printing capabilities. professionals, which they can use to
coordinating community and media Offer to acknowledge their donation notify patients with health issues
activities, you can gain avenues for on these materials. about your program.
increasing public awareness of your
program. • Collaborate with retailers to promote • Ask healthcare providers and health
special gifts related to your program. insurance companies to record hold
Based on your resources, some activities messages about disease management.
are more appropriate than others. In
30 The Journal on Active Aging • March April 2003
To change to a health-based
marketing style, you must
identify community needs
• Community health centers; • Contact high school clubs or art
and target your audience, • Health departments; classes about designing and producing
create and pursue • Senior centers; and banners or portable exhibits for your
• Drugstores. use in the community.
partnerships, and offer
Secondary sites are highly visible to the • Organize a poster contest for students
activities for outreach. general public and include the following or an art exhibition by older adults.
places: Give contest winners donated prizes.
• Request that clinics and hospitals Exhibit entries in malls, libraries and
provide articles about health • Supermarkets; community centers, as well as the
conditions and action steps in their • Libraries; local airport or other public place.
newsletters. Ask them to display your • Post offices;
posters and brochures. • Places of worship; • Assemble gift packages for people with
• Community and neighborhood health issues or to give away at
• Offer in-service seminars at medical, centers; and lectures. Use samples and coupons
health and social service agencies. Ask • Government offices for aging, provided by local merchants.
hospitals to include your information housing, recreation and minority
in continuing medical education health. Media activities
programs. Television and radio stations,
Community activities newspapers, newsletters and local or
Special events • Request that your community’s mayor regional magazines can help in
• Participate in community events, such or governor proclaim a disease educating the public about chronic
as health fairs, festivals, sports events, awareness day, week or month. Solicit illness and disease management. The
parades and fundraising walks/runs. local media coverage of this event. media can also provide publicity for
your activities and programs, if you
• Take advantage of special events and • Talk to a local public relations firm or provide local print and radio outlets
festivals in minority communities and college marketing, communications or with public service announcements
Hispanic neighborhoods. health education department about (PSAs).
surveying the community on disease
• Establish a speaker’s program to offer awareness. Publicize the results with When working with the media, the
lectures at senior centers, support an article or radio interview. following points generally apply:
group meetings, libraries, association
and club meetings, recreation centers, • Approach your fire and police • Start a media list. Build a
community hospitals, places of departments about distributing comprehensive list of reporters who
worship and worksites. Talk to local brochures at their community events. cover health-related topics by
community and nonprofit groups monitoring newspapers, radio and
about potential speakers. • Arrange for retirement and assisted television. Expand this list by referring
living communities, fitness/wellness to media directories at your local
• Prepare a scoreboard or loudspeaker clubs and YMCAs to display your library;
announcement for sports events or posters and brochures.
concerts. • Make initial contacts. Set up meetings
• Ask local religious institutions about with reporters, editors and producers.
Brochure placement incorporating messages into their Prepare and bring materials to these
Where do you place brochures about services, displaying brochures after meetings (i.e. a PSA, news release,
your program? The following places are services or social events and accepting article or announcer copy, plus
primary sites for reaching people with advertisements for their bulletins. background information such as a fact
health issues: sheet about the disease);
• Create an exhibit about disease and
• Healthcare professionals’ offices; disease management for your local • Offer an expert. Write to a producer
• Hospital wellness centers; library. Include a reading section and or editor and outline why an interview
• Health clinics and HMOs; distribute brochures.
• Support group meetings; Continued on page 32
The Journal on Active Aging • March April 2003 31
calendar: some key
Healthy messages: marketing to
today’s older adult Continued from page 31
Healthy Weight Week Tips for capitalizing on print media time and regular contact, reporters,
opportunities include the following: editors and producers will see you as a
February reliable source and turn to you more
American Heart Month • Approach companies, neighborhood frequently for health information.
associations, civic organizations and Regular media exposure will reinforce
March schools about publishing in their the impact of your media and other
National Nutrition Month newsletters. Create articles, notices or activities, and help ensure your success
World Health Day advertisements for use. Include quotes as a healthy marketer.
from health professionals or patients
May to add interest and credibility to your Measure your success
National Arthritis Month materials; To change to a health-based marketing
National High Blood Pressure style, you must identify community
Education Month • Ask local newspapers to publish public needs and target your audience, create
National Osteoporosis Prevention service print advertisements, articles or and pursue partnerships, and offer
Month editorials about health issues; activities for outreach. Once you’ve
National Stroke Awareness Month accomplished these steps, evaluate how
Older Adult Month • Solicit paid newspaper advertisements your program is working:
National Senior Health and Fitness for your program from corporations;
Day and • Monitor dissemination of materials;
• Monitor program timetable;
June • Prepare a news release or write a letter • Track and analyze media coverage;
National Men’s Health Week to the editor to announce your • Monitor audience response;
program. • Obtain feedback;
September • Use evaluation results;
Healthy Aging Month And try exploring these ideas for radio • Continue efforts; and
National Cholesterol Education and television outlets: • Provide feedback.
• Ask corporations to sponsor paid Done periodically, this review helps you
October radio advertisements for your identify and address problems before
International Day for Older Persons program; they become major ones, plus monitor
Breast Cancer Awareness Month schedules and budgets. Finally, when
Healthy Lung Month • Ask local radio and television stations you evaluate your program, you allow
to run PSAs about your event; staff, volunteers and the community to
November see what you’ve accomplished, which
American Diabetes Month • Suggest that producers of radio call-in helps in maintaining your program’s
shows and television public affairs momentum and providing healthy
shows cover health issues. Offer rewards for your facility.
background information, sample
with an expert on a particular health
questions and answers, plus someone References
issue would interest the outlet’s
to interview—a health professional,
readers/listeners. Follow up with a
expert, patient or program Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
telephone call. Send briefing materials,
spokesperson; and National Eye Institute (National Institutes of
including the expert’s credentials; and Health)
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
• Request that a radio station broadcast Alliance for Aging Research
• Follow up. Telephone your contacts to
live from your special event. Line up
ensure they received your materials.
people to be interviewed about the Department of Health and Human Services.
Offer to answer any questions for 2003. Steps to a Healthier US: A Program and
health issue, plus the latest treatments
them. This follow-up will remind your Policy Perspective: The Power of Prevention.
and steps to prevent it. Washington DC: Department of Health and
contacts about your suggestion or
Human Services. www.healthierus.gov/steps/
press release. Send a thank-you note to
Strive to build good working relation- summit/prevportfolio/Power_Of_Prevention.pdf,
media outlets that give you coverage. accessed April 18, 2003
ships with media representatives. With
32 The Journal on Active Aging • March April 2003