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Alumni News

Business of Aging: Serving Older Consumers

March 08, 2012

Vicki Dillane
Advertising 1985

We’ve all heard it: our population is aging. By 2021, 20 percent of our Canadians will be over 65. But today’s seniors are redefining what it means to be “old” as they work and stay active longer than those of previous generations. “Businesses need to rethink the rules to keep ahead of this curve,” says Vicki Dillane, Director of Forever Young magazine, who was the guest speaker at the Business of Aging: Information Exchange Network (BA:IEN) event organized by the Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC). Held in January, the networking breakfast was the first in a series of events designed to provide businesses with insight into the mature market and how to target them more effectively. 

“We know that this exciting and growing group of consumers will continue to be a moving target and it’s important for us to ask our customers, employees and like-minded businesses to share in their best practices,” says Vicki, who joined 45 others from a variety of industries at the BA:IEN breakfast.

One of the main goals of BA:IEN - and all research initiatives at SERC - is helping older adults live in their own homes for as long as comfortably possible, says alumna Monika Strzalkowska, SERC’s Communications Coordinator.

“We try to create ways to enhance the quality of life for older adults through technology, the arts, and other forms of applied research,” says Monika, (Communication Culture and Information Technology [CCIT] 2007, Corporate Communications 2008). Monika joined SERC in 2011 following a two-year stint as a researcher at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, where she completed her Master’s in Professional Communications.  

Among SERC’s other unique initiatives is technology tutoring for older adults, a service which has expanded this year. The centre’s Internet Café now offers instruction on how to use Skype and mobile technology (including iPads), as well as the fundamentals of sending email and accessing the Internet.

Overseeing the tutoring sessions is Chris Bint, Executive Director of the Elder Technology Assistance Group (ETAG). Chris, who is also a 2007 CCIT degree grad, co-founded ETAG in 2008. The non-profit organization provides free technology assistance to seniors in training centres and retirement homes in Oakville, Mississauga and Brampton.

Chris’ interest in seniors and technology was sparked by his experience as a SERC student volunteer. “Communication and free access to information made possible by modern technology enable seniors to connect with their loved ones, their communities, and the world around them,” says Chris, who also holds a Digital Communications Certificate from Sheridan.

Rounding out the SERC grad connection is Research Assistant, Paulina Camino (Social Service Worker 2011). “I was also introduced to SERC as a volunteer tech tutor,” says Paulina. “It was such a wonderful opportunity to not only gain work experience as a student but to see firsthand how relevant research positively affects the lives of our aging population.”

For more information on SERC, click here or visit SERC's Facebook or Twitter page.


From left, grads Chris Bint, Monika Strzalkowska and Paulina Camino from the Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC)