What will it take to make Honolulu more age-friendly?

A recent report found that Hawaii has the most pedestrian deaths among residents 65 years and older, but there’s an effort underway to make Honolulu safer for older residents.

Tom Dinell is an emeritus professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning. He is also co-chair of the Age-Friendly City steering committee in Honolulu, a group that works in partnership with the City and County of Honolulu and AARP.

Dinell said the main reason it will be difficult to make the city age-friendly is the sheer size of the elderly population. By the year 2030, 25 percent of the population will be 65 or older.

An age-friendly city requires open space and parks for seniors, and that’s just one of the considerations.

“The second (is) transportation,” Dinell said. “At some point, I’m even going to have to admit that I’ll have to give up my drivers license though I’m not yet ready to do that.”

Dinell and others his age will at one point have to rely on mass transportation, or buses. That will mean those vehicles will have to be accessible to seniors.

Developers will have to keep accessibility in mind when it comes to the senior population.

“I used to rip up the stairs at my home at great speed. Now, I’m very happy that there’s a banister there. It’s age-friendly for me.”

Other construction clues include wider doorways so wheelchairs can fit through.

But Dinell says there is something even more vital when it comes to developing living space for seniors – a gathering place.

“Even more important, how do we make sure in these multi-story structures that people aren’t isolated in their apartment?” Dinell said.

For more information on Age-Friendly City, click here.

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