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10 Tips to Help Businesses Engage With Kupuna (That's Hawaiian for 'Older Adults')

Retailers are recognizing the need to be age-friendly

The Hawaiian word for “older adults” is kupuna. And with the older-adult population of Honolulu growing at a faster rate than in the rest of the nation, the city is home to a lot of kupuna. In fact, by 2030, close to one-third of all the people in Hawaii will be over the age of 65.

As one of the first cities to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities Honolulu has a head start on meeting the needs of this population. In 2017, the Age-Friendly Honolulu coalition launched Kind2Kupuna, a public awareness campaign to help shops, restaurants, health care providers and many other public-facing businesses and offices better serve older adults.

While preparing its Kind2Kupuna campaign and posters (scroll down to see one), Age-Friendly Honolulu learned that the most common complaints by kupuna about shopping are that “it is sometimes difficult to reach items in stores, and employees provide poor customer service, fail to smile and do not give eye contact.”


“A workforce that is more aware and equipped to accommodate physical and cognitive changes with age will be better able to support older adults in many ways, both big and small.” 

— Sam Moku, a vice president at Hawaii Pacific University


The Kind2Kupuna campaign could, says Moku, “help new store employees anticipate the needs of older customers, and it could help a restaurant server de-escalate an order mix-up for someone with dementia. This campaign can lead to a taxi driver finding a better drop-off location for an older adult passenger with mobility limitations, and it could prompt a business owner to change the layout and lighting of her store.”

Kupuna helped create the list, says University of Hawaii gerontologist Christy Nishita. Through surveys and focus groups, Nishita and her team learned that Hawaii’s businesses were perceived as being “only moderately age-friendly.”

The resulting poster (below) features culturally appropriate tips to, she says, “help organizations train personnel, adjust operational procedures, and improve spaces to support the physical and cognitive challenges that can be associated with aging.”


10 Tips To Help Businesses Engage With Kupuna

Infographic by Age-Friendly Honolulu


Age-Friendly Honolulu was a recipient of a 2017 AARP Community Challenge grant. This article was adapted from the "Create Thriving, Productive Communities" chapter of Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Ideas From America’s Local Leaders. Download or order your free copy.

Page published August 2018