A survey of 45-64 year-old adults on O‘ahu ranks affordable home health care and housing the greatest needs facing Honolulu seniors. The 2014 AARP Livable Communities Survey in Honolulu, Hawaii of Adults Age 45+ identifies needs of older residents as well as gaps in community services.
Of all environmental, economic and social factors in eight key areas or domains, survey respondents rated community and health services most important. They gave reliable emergency ambulance service, well-maintained hospitals and health care facilities, and affordable health services the highest priority. Affordable home health was the greatest gap in community services.
This survey offers the latest evidence that residents are troubled by the high cost of nursing care. As adult children assume responsibility for the care of their older loved ones, many prefer to care for them at home. This places a greater burden on family caregivers, who look for help from paid home health aides, a workforce in seriously short supply. That’s why 9 in 10 respondents say that affordable home health care is either not available or they don’t know where to find help.
Most survey respondents are home owners who say they would prefer to age-in-place, so top housing issues relate to home repairs that would allow them stay in the home. Nearly all said affordable home repair and having many home contractors to choose from are extremely or very important. Over four in five residents say affordable assisted living is important — another indication that caregiving and long-term care are key concerns.
The survey also identifies housing as the greatest need facing Honolulu’s older residents — with affordable home prices rated highest. Other in-home needs include various aging-in-place options, like a no-step entrance, wider doorways, grab bars in bathrooms, and first floor bedrooms and bathrooms. Well-maintained, low-income housing also came up as a community need.
These survey findings will be used as a baseline to help city policymakers and planners develop an action plan for the Age-Friendly City initiative, a partnership between the City and County of Honolulu, AARP Hawai‘i, and the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. Announced by city officials in March 2014, this initiative is intended to promote health, encourage civic engagement, and sustain economic growth in Honolulu, as our population grows older.