The economic potential of our ageing local population has begun to pay dividends for Louth’s increasingly age-friendly businesses.
From chairobics and frail car parking spaces, to older people’s meals and trips, the commercial sector in Louth is leading the way in recognising the value of age-friendly business initiatives.
“We have been amazed at the amount of positive stories coming back of local businesses discovering new markets through products and services aimed at older people,” said Louth Age-Friendly County co-ordinator Mary Deery.
Ms Deery was speaking at the launch of the Louth Age Friendly Business Consumer Fair at Darver Castle, which will be held on Sunday October 6.
Last year over 3,000 people attended the fair, where over 60 local businesses displayed their age-friendly products and services
If you hear that one of your neighbours is taking part in “chairobics”, it’s probably due to a new age-friendly initiative launched by Dundalk company Servisource.
It’s the brainchild of a company that already provided more traditional homecare to older people in the area.
“Chairobics are fantastic because, as the name suggests, you can exercise as you sit,” said Declan Murphy, CEO of Servisource.
“Many of our homecare clients are requesting the service because of the feelgood factor involved in exercising.
“It all came about because we had a fitness instructor engaged in care work. The clients get a full assessment of the their needs and abilities and are assigned a programme.”
Both the Dundalk and Drogheda Chambers now feature Age Friendly Categories as part of their annual Business Awards.
“The inaugural winner in Dundalk, the Carrickdale Hotel, has successfully introduced the concept of age-friendly meals that has given them a new regular clientele,” said Mary Deery.
The Marshes Shopping Centre in Dundalk have launched a new suite of frail car parking spaces, for the exclusive use of the elderly, thus combatting one of the great problems of distance that some older people face at large shopping centres.
Matthews Coach Hire has been an age-friendly business since their inception and owner Paddy Matthews has a technological eye to the future.
“Our business was founded on older people using our service, and we try to include them in every business decision that we take,” said Paddy.
“We have already had discussions with Casala and the Netwell Centre at DkIT about developing an app that would give older people precise instructions on how to get to important places such as hospitals in Dublin and so on.”
Tourism providers such as the D Hotel in Drogheda are also adjusting their business model to meet the needs of the expanding ageing population.
“We have discovered a whole new tourism stream since we launched our over 50s offers,” said General Manager Rory Scott.
“We have looked at when people are available to travel, how they travel, and the standards that they expect on arrival from an age friendly county.
“When someone comes to Drogheda, we have special midweek packages, we will collect them at the train or bus station, offer them tea or coffee on arrival, and upgrade them to a superior room.
“We have specialised tours for older people, such as a reasonably-paced walking tour of Drogheda, which includes St Laurence’s Gate, The Highlanes Gallery, The Tholsel, and St Oliver Plunkett’s Shrine.”