To get the most out of your Active Aging Week campaign be sure to identify what your community's needs are and who will be your target audience. Because each community has its own unique combination of people, organizations, and needs, your program may take different forms.
Assess your community's needs
Check data from your local department on aging, area agency on aging, social service agency, or planning agency to find out the number of older people in your community and where they live.
Find out which groups or organizations these people belong to and where they meet. Ask community leaders about the best ways to reach your audience.
Learn whether there are other health promotion programs in your community. To learn more about existing programs, contact your local health departments, area agency on aging, hospitals and clinics. Local voluntary health organizations and professionals. If there are current health promotion programs, join them instead of competing with them, it sends a strong message of community.
Who will your primary audience be?
Active and inactive older adults.
People with chronic issues who could benefit from being active. I.e diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, poor nutrition.
Income level of desired populations.
Secondary target audience:
People who can influence those who are inactive, I.e., doctors, therapists, family, caregivers, fellow employees, social network.
Seek out and create partnerships
By forming strong partnerships, you can multiply your resources, reach more members of your target audience, and avoid duplication of effort.
Determine the resources you will need, i.e., staff, facilities, expertise, contacts and funding.
Solicit help from local nonprofit and social service organizations, civic and volunteer groups, fraternities and sororities, associations, and businesses. These groups may be able to donate funds, services (e.g., printing), and volunteers.
Many national organizations, that create or support health observances, have local chapters already participating in these activities. Partnerships with these groups will add to your credibility and knowledge.
Create an Active Aging Week committee to help you get started. Select people who are committed to helping and who can provide expertise or contacts.
Other potential partners
You can contact the occupational health officer or benefits manager for major employers to discuss how this could fit Active Aging Week into their health initiatives.
Many religious institutions have a tradition of community service, a strong volunteer system, and access to traditionally hard-to-reach populations.
You can reach your Active Aging Week audience through senior citizen centers, senior meal sites, meals-on-wheels programs, and college campus programs for senior citizens.
You can reach health professionals--such as family doctors and nurses through their professional associations as well as at their places of work. You can contact health maintenance organizations and community hospitals through their departments of patient education and public relations. Some hospitals have an auxiliary group that could provide volunteers.
Selecting and conducting activities
The list of specific activities below includes ideas for reaching members of your target audience through the places they shop, work, worship, socialize, obtain health care, and access information. You can increase awareness of Active Aging Week by displaying posters, distributing brochures, and coordinating community and media activities. Based on your resources, some activities may be more appropriate than others. You will probably think of other activities that will work well in your community. General types of activities include the following:
Ask shopping mall management to sponsor a health fair, make room for an exhibit, or provide space for a "questions and answers about the health condition" table or booth. Keep a list of people who visit the exhibit or booth and send follow up cards to remind them that they could improve their health by exercising at your facility.
Ask local businesses to include messages about your Active Aging Week program by displaying posters, and to distribute brochures.
Ask supermarkets, drugstores, and other merchants to print Active Aging Week messages on their bags, bag stuffers, or receipts and to distribute brochures at their counters.
Have utility companies and banks print Active Aging Week messages accompanying bills and statements.
Ask fast-food restaurants to print Active Aging Week messages on their paper tray liners.
See if your local supermarket will agree to sponsor a nutritional tour program for people with health issues.
Include Active Aging Week brochure in the information packet.
Ask local businesses if they have printing capabilities and can reprint Active Aging Week materials (offer to include the name of the business on the materials to acknowledge their donation).
Work with merchants to promote special gifts related to the Active Aging Week.
Establish an Active Aging Week information center in workplace cafeterias or health centers.
Ask employers to distribute Active Aging Week brochures at employee health fairs and to include information at pre-retirement planning seminars.
Ask unions to distribute Active Aging Week materials to their older members.
Ask employers to establish incentives for older employees.
Contact the occupational health nurse or the employee benefits manager to discuss how an Active
Aging Week program can fit into the employee health education or benefits program.
Health Care settings
Provide health care professionals with Active Aging Week brochures to distribute to their patients.
Ask local pharmacies to display Active Aging Week brochures and place prescription bag inserts in bags with all prescriptions for people with health condition.
Ask them to print Active Aging Week messages on prescription receipts.
Work with the coordinators of local health education programs and support groups to incorporate
Active Aging Week messages into their existing programs.
Give health care professionals reminder notices that they can use to notify their older patients.
Suggest that health care providers and health insurance companies record and play messages about
Active Aging Week for callers who are put on hold.
Ask health clinics and hospitals to include articles about Active Aging Week in their newsletters and to display Active Aging Week posters and brochures.
Develop in-service training seminars at medical, health, and social service agencies. Ask hospitals to include your information in continuing medical education programs.
Take advantage of community events, such as local health fairs, parades, festivals, sports events, and Walk for Health events.
Focus on special events in minority communities and festivals in Hispanic neighborhoods.
Implement a speaker's program. Speakers can be identified through local community and nonprofit organizations and associations. Lectures can take place at senior centers, support group meetings, libraries, club meetings, recreation centers, community hospitals, churches, synagogues, mosques, and worksites.
Consider placing Active Aging Week brochures at the following sites:
Primary sites (sites more likely to reach people with health issues)
Hospital wellness centers
Medical professionals' offices
Clinics and health maintenance organizations
Community health centers
Support group meetings
Senior citizen centers
Secondary sites (sites highly visible to the general public)
Community and neighborhood centers
Government offices that deal with aging, housing, recreation, and minority health
Other community ctivities
Ask your mayor or governor to proclaim it Active Aging Week.
Ask local media to cover your Active Aging Week event(s).
Ask a local college health education, marketing, or communications department or a public relations firm to conduct a community survey about health awareness.
Publicize the results with an article or radio interview.
Have local fire departments and police departments distribute Active Aging Week brochures at their community events.
Work with local churches, synagogues, and mosques to incorporate Active Aging Week messages into their sermons, to insert ads in their bulletins, or to make brochures available after services or social events.
Set up a special exhibit at your local library. Organize a special reading section and distribute brochures.
Ask high school clubs or art classes to design and construct banners or portable Active Aging Week exhibits for use at community events.
Hold an Active Aging Week poster contest (for students) or an art exhibit (for senior citizens) and offer donated prizes. Exhibit entries in a mall, community center, library, local airport, or other public place.
Assemble a gift package (including coupons and samples from local merchants) for a speaker's audience or for people with health issue.
The media--television and radio stations, newspapers and newsletters, and local or regional magazines--can play an important role in educating the public and also can help publicize your Active Aging Week events. Send print and radio public service announcements to local media outlets.
Working with the media
Start a media list
Create a list of media contacts by reading newspapers and monitoring radio and TV shows to learn the names of reporters who cover health topics. Also check media directories available in libraries.
Make Initial Contacts
Arrange to meet with reporters, editors, and producers. Bring your Active Aging Week public service announcement, article, news release, and announcer copy as well as written background information (e.g., the benefits of physical activity fact sheet).
Offer an Expert
Send a letter to the producer or editor explaining why an interview with an expert on older adults being active would be of interest to readers/listeners. Follow up with a telephone call. Send briefing materials, including the expert's credentials.
Call your contacts after you send materials. Offer to answer questions. Send a thank-you note if there is media coverage.
Prepare Active Aging Week articles, short notices, or ads for newsletters published by companies, neighborhood associations, civic organizations, and schools.
You may want to add quotes from a health professional.
Ask local newspapers to publish Active Aging Week public service print ads, articles, or editorials.
Write a press release or a letter to the editor.
Ask corporations to sponsor the placement of paid newspaper ads about your Active Aging Week program.
Write a news release, or letter to the editor to announce your Active Aging Week program.
Radio and Television
Ask corporations to sponsor the placement of paid radio ads about your Active Aging Week program.
Contact local radio and television stations to ask them to run public service announcements about your Active Aging Week event.
Ask producers of radio call-in shows and television public affairs shows to feature physical activity for older adults. Offer to provide background information, sample questions and answers, and someone to interview. This person can be a health professional, expert, patient, or someone who represents your program.
Ask a radio station to broadcast live from your special Active Aging Week event. Provide older adults, their family members, and experts to be interviewed about health.
How to measure your success
It's a good idea to step back periodically and take a look at how and whether your Active Aging Week program is working. This process of evaluation helps you identify small problems and make adjustments before major ones develop. It also helps you monitor schedules and budgets. Finally, it allows staff, volunteers, and the rest of the community to see what has been accomplished--an important ingredient in maintaining momentum and enthusiasm for your program.
Monitor Materials Dissemination.
Monitor Your Program Timetable.
Track and Analyze Media Coverage.
Monitor Audience Response.
Use Evaluation Results.
At the end of the day it is important to remember that what is good for your member or resident is good for you.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Sen. Larry Craig, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging
National Institute of Health
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Alliance for Aging Research