Surveying an Aging Population



Nearly 16% of the United States population are people over the age of 65. By current calculations, there are about 39.5 million people age 65 or over and 5.6 million people over the age of 85. Interestingly, the population of the elderly is growing much faster than any other age group. The leading cause of increased life expectancy is declining mortality rates thanks to advancements in medicine and science. While the vast majority of the older adults live in communities, yet 4% (about 1.5 million) live in nursing homes and 2% (1 million) in assisted living facilities.

Surveying older adults can be difficult for various reasons. Many seniors have trouble using and understanding technology devices, and some have health conditions that make reading or writing challenging. That is why in most cases, surveying the elderly using traditional way (paper surveys) could be more beneficial than surveying on web applications. However, the paper survey has to be well adjusted and allow the elderly to participate fully to achieve the best response rates possible.

How to increase response rates to surveys of older people?

High Contrast Colors

Many visually impaired people cannot distinguish similar colors like yellow and green. In case you want to use different colors, make sure there is plenty of contrast.

High contrast colors help participants with limited vision see questions and answers more clear. On the contrary, light, low contrast, colors are the least readable, especially for people with poor eyesight.

If you are unsure what colors to choose, use black text on white paper.

Large Font Sizes

Font size should be at least 19 pixels (14 points) or more. Smaller font sizes will be more challenging to read. Therefore it will lower the survey response rate.

Simple Font Styles

Some fonts can be hard to read, especially for seniors.

Choose easy to read font such as:

  • Helvetica


  • Georgia


  • PT Sans and PT Serif

PT Sans

  • Open Sans

Open Sans

Page last updated:

Get Started with Software

Get Started

Start your 14-day free trial now, no credit card required.