The Coffey Blog

How to create age-friendly print content

Posted on: Monday, January 14, 2019

Karen Craddock, Senior Editor

It's a trend that's on the minds of many healthcare marketers: Because of longer life spans and aging baby boomers, the number of Americans 65 and older is expected to double during the next 25 years.

As key users of the healthcare system, these older adults will wield a lot of influence. To capture—and hold—the attention of this expanding market, it's crucial to take an age-friendly approach to content.

And while there's no question that older Americans' comfort with and appetite for digital content is growing, this statistic is telling: Older adults who pay for news are five times more likely to choose print than digital. It's one reason healthcare marketers are wise to pay particular attention to the needs of older consumers when developing a print strategy.

6 steps to success

Older adults are a diverse group. Education levels vary, as do cultures, languages, literacy skills and income levels. In addition, vision and cognitive skills—both key to comprehending written materials—can be vastly different in someone who is 65 vs. 85. That's why there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to producing written materials for older adults.

But there are some general print guidelines that apply to seniors. And a bonus: Many of these ideas are good choices for readers of all ages. Here are six tips that can make your print magazines, newsletters or brochures more age-friendly:

1. Keep messages short and manageable. To help readers use and retain information, try to limit the number of key points you want to make—three to five are ideal. And offer just a few action steps. Consider numbering action steps and listing them in sequence when appropriate. This is particularly helpful for people with some cognitive disorders, such as early Alzheimer's disease, who may only remember one or two steps at a time.

2. Tell a relatable story. Adults of all ages like to read about other people who have overcome a health problem. But patient stories are particularly appealing to older adults, who often find the stories relevant to their current or past medical experiences.

3. Steer-clear of jargon. Although at least 25 percent of American adults 65 and older have completed a bachelor's degree or more, healthcare is full of medical jargon that can trip up even the most highly-educated reader. Use familiar terms like "heart attack" instead of "myocardial infarction" in your healthcare marketing materials. Say "high blood pressure" instead of "hypertension." And in interviews, encourage doctors to use analogies and metaphors to make concepts more clear.

4. Opt for simple charts and graphs. Both are great ways to highlight important information or to break up copy. But some people may find this type of content too complex, especially if they need to compare information in multiple rows or columns. So a pared-down approach is best.

5. Choose readable fonts. Aging eyes do better with serif typefaces, such as Minion Pro, Times New Roman or Georgia. Size matters too: Make your type at least 12 points. And depending on which font you use, you may need to bump that up to 13 or 14 points to make it easy for older adults to read.

6. Embrace white space. A page filled with text doesn't provide a place for the eyes to relax from reading, which may cause older adults to lose focus.

We understand healthcare marketing for all ages

Coffey's writers, editors and designers can help you produce print materials that are effective in reaching readers at every stage of life. We'd love to talk to you about your specific print needs. Give us a call at 888.805.9101 or email us.

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