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Making Honolulu an Age-Friendly City

Residents of Hawaii's capital benefit from glorious weather and a community-wide action plan for improving the lives of "kῡpuna" and people of all ages

Honolulu, Hawaii, Making Honolulu an Age-Friendly City

Robert Harding World Imagery/Offset

A view of Waikiki Beach on the waterfront of Honolulu, Hawaii's capital city. Honolulu joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2013 to support its diverse and growing aging population.

The Hawaii state capital city of Honolulu joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2013 to support its diverse and growing aging population. After two years of community engagement and planning, Honolulu’s Age-Friendly City Initiative released "Making Honolulu an Age-Friendly City," an action plan for improving the quality of life for all residents.

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The plan identifies goals and recommendations for six community features that the World Health Organization (WHO) has found impact the quality of life of older adults (referred to locally as kῡpuna). These areas of focus — or "domains" — for the island state's largest city are Outdoor Spaces and Buildings; Transportation; Housing; Communication and Social Involvement; Civic Participation and Employment; and Community Support and Health Services.

Creating The Plan

A steering committee leads the initiative, and a Citizens Advisory Committee of approximately 90 community members from nonprofit organizations, businesses and city and county departments contributed to the overall plan.

The committee divided into six working groups and for each domain identified a vision and the challenges, goals, strategies and implementation recommendations. The 2014 AARP Livable Community Survey of Honolulu, a focus group, expert interviews and public input gathered through a 2015 "Living Age-Friendly Summit" and action plan comment period all influenced the final document.

The University of Hawai'i Center on Aging consulted on the initiative and led the development of the ultimate action plan. A technical committee focused on collecting and analyzing city data created a Geographic Information System (GIS) website with maps for each of the six domains that will track the city’s progress against its goals. 

With the release of the action plan, the implementation phase begins and extends over the next three years to 2018 when Honolulu and AARP will review the city’s progress toward becoming more age-friendly. 

(The full report, which opens with a 10-page executive summary, can be downloaded at right.)

Key Points: Hawaii Residents

  • In 2030, 24 percent of Hawaii’s population will be age 65 or older, compared to 21 percent nationally.

  • By 2040, 27 percent of Honolulu residents will be age 65 or older.

  • Hawaii leads the nation in longevity and has the longest healthy life expectancy, meaning that a 65-year-old resident can expect to live 16.2 additional years of life in good health.

  • More than half of Honolulu’s older adults, or 57 percent, have lived in their communities for 20 years or more.

Action Plan Highlights

Among the city's plans are to:

  • Create multigenerational spaces that promote outdoor fitness and health and use creativity in developing age-friendly gardens and parks

  • Ensure and expand the availability of accessible spaces for residents with a range of disabilities through specialized accessibility features in parks and public beaches

  • Increase pedestrian safety through public education and street design changes

  • Promote timely and responsive public transportation by addressing the needs of rural older adults, allowing easy switching between modes of transportation and producing printed schedules for the visually impaired

  • Provide affordable and widely available home modifications for older adults and people with disabilities by offering financial assistance and streamlining the permit process for home modifications

  • Promote the creation of multigenerational or senior-only developments

  • Encourage the use of age-friendly design features in new housing communities by making the practice attractive to developers and builders

  • Create intergenerational opportunities for mentorship, knowledge sharing and volunteering

  • Promote flexible work options and recognize the value of older workers

  • Increase the accessibility and availability of health services and long-term services and supports

How to Use

The report includes a wealth of information for community leaders, businesses and citizens. For each age-friendly domain, the action plan provides a vision, goals, Honolulu's current context, strengths, challenges, opportunities for improvement and an implementation plan (pages 13-109).

Appendix A of the plan breaks out goals within each domain and designates action steps, success metrics and three-year benchmarks. Specific organizations are designated leads for each goal, but all community members can play a role in making the city more age-friendly.

Report published June 2015. Summary by Jessica Ludwig

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