Home |  Elder Rights |  Health |  Pension Watch |  Rural Aging |  Armed Conflict |  Aging Watch at the UN  


Mission  |  Contact Us  |  Internships  |    


   Back to Current Articles














Rural Aging

- Archives 2004 to 2008 - 

United States

Doctor Shortage Impacts Rural Areas (February 26, 2008)
In the 80’s and 90’s, the US government limited the enrollment of students in medical schools. Today, the US faces a shortage of surgeons and doctors. The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration explains that the shortage is expected to be from 55, 000 to 191, 000 physicians by 2020, and will especially take place in rural areas. This shortage has unfortunately consequences on older persons, who must wait longer to have access to health care.


Elderly Demographics and the need for a Community Focus (November 2007)

This power point presentation charts population change and the growing percentage of seniors in  America with a focus on North Dakota .  (The format of this interesting data requires readers to examine maps to derive conclusions.) The final section on technological advances suggests ways that seniors can remain at home and be independent through such innovations like Smart Homes and Telemedicine.

Experts Weigh in on Nevada's Numbers on Elderly Suicide (August 8, 2007)
Seniors in rural areas such as in Nevada sometimes lose connections with their neighbors and communities, leading to depression. “Oftentimes depression in elderly people gets ignored because people think it's just part of getting older. That's not the case. Depression is a health factor, just like a broken arm or a heart disorder,” said James Radack, senior vice president of Mental Health America. This problem should not be taken lightly, since recent analysis of federal data found that elderly people in Nevada commit suicide at three times the rate of older persons in other states.


Pharmacists Fear Medicaid Changes (August 6, 2007)
The nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including many older persons, rely on Medicaid for drug coverage. New regulations, however, are putting an increased burden on retail pharmacies. Rural states such as Kansas are affected the most. Over the past six years, Kansas has lost 22 independent pharmacies, and many counties in the state are now serviced by one or even zero retail pharmacies. These pharmacy closings force Medicaid beneficiaries to drive 40-50 miles simply to pick up their medications.


Older Farmers Face More Dangers (July 1, 2007)
Farmers over 75 years old are twice as likely as younger farmers to die in an accident while on the job, in large part due to dulling senses and a reluctance to upgrade to newer equipment. Many farmers don’t have retirement plans and therefore feel pressured to continue farming well into old age. Researchers say that it is easier to obtain funding to study child safety on the farm than to study elder safety because it’s a more “emotional issue.” Advocates claim that if shown a safer and less painful way to work, farmers will begin to change their methods.


Broadband Access Critical to Health Care (June 27, 2007)

As a state with a rapidly aging population and expansive rural areas, New Hampshire serves as an excellent candidate for telemedicine. This article claims that telemedicine can improve health delivery by allowing patients and their physicians to transfer medical data such as images, sound, video, and patient records to one another. Telemedicine therefore has the potential to provide access to health care for older persons who live in rural areas and have difficulty traveling to medical centers in the central and southern areas of the state.

Bills Would Boost Rural Health Care (June 15, 2007)
A group of US Senators have introduced a bill to improve Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to physicians who treat older persons in rural areas. New Mexico, for example, could see a fifteen percent increase in Medicare revenues if the bill is passed. The Senators hope that the increased funding will help small towns attract and retain physicians and health care workers.

Report: Population Dynamics are Changing the Profile of Rural Areas (April 2007)
A long-term pattern of net outmigration of young people from farming-dependent counties, and the migration of retirees to amenity-rich rural areas has a profound impact on these rural areas: on the one hand schools and businesses are closing in some areas; on the other hand, new business opportunities in recreation and retirement services have developed. At the same time, Hispanic, Asian, and other international immigration to these rural areas is creating a need for bilingual teachers, nurses, and other service providers.

Facing Rural Isolation, Lack of Transportation, Some Putnam Elderly Struggling (December 13, 2006)
In the still rural county of Putnam, older people, who represent a high percentage of the population, struggle against isolation. They face high rents, little transportation, rising taxes and health concerns. Read the stories of Paul Haegele, Gloria Stahl, Ann Voss and others, who show how isolated and difficult life can be in rural areas in the US.  Small daily needs turn into tremendous challenges, even in the richest country in the world.

Rural Life May be a Plus for Elderly (May 30, 2006)
Due to prolonged life-span and the availability of more in-home services, the number of older adults who stay in rural areas has increased. An expert reports that some factors associated with rural life are in fact positive factors for the aging process. These include “physical activity, closeness of family and eating fresh produce.” Though rural aging can be physically and psychologically difficult for fragile older adults, it can provide a better quality of life for healthy older adults. 

Financial Issues Facing Ambulance Services Threat To Rural Areas, Public (May 9, 2006)
For those who need emergency ambulance service, lost time can mean lost lives. In rural Oklahoma, several ambulance services have shut down due to financial shortages. These shortages issues include cuts to Medicare for emergency care. For instance, last year--in spite of $94 million to assist an older population on Medicare in the state--the ambulance companies received only $52 million from Medicare. Soon 911 callers in rural Oklahoma may have to find their own transportation to the closest hospital after they are given basic care instructions. 

Walden Introduces Rural Health Care Bill (April 27, 2006)
Rural communities are hard hit when providing easy access to quality health care. In order to meet the needs of rural health systems and isolated citizens, especially older persons, Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) recently introduced the Medicare Rural Health Provider Payment Extension Act. The bill would “extend Medicare reimbursement methods for services provided in isolated or underserved areas to help ensure that such reimbursements are equitable and fair for costs incurred by rural health providers.”

Bill Would Add Therapists to Medicare (November 14, 2005)

Mental health experts and elected officials are divided over the merits of a bill proposed by Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) that would expand Medicare to cover family, relationship and marriage councilors. Sen. Thomas argues increased Medicare coverage for such services would bring greater access to mental health care for those who live in rural areas. However, mental health professionals believe that the inclusion of such counselors does not adequately deal with the true demands for mental health diagnosis and treatment for such illnesses as dementia. In addition, critics contend that such services will not be widely affordable without reducing the high premiums for mental health care. 

Travel Problems Afflict Elders' Health Group. Maine Seeks Solution to Rural Needs (October 17, 2005)

Lenard Kaye, director of the Maine Center on Aging at the University of Maine, has studied transportation needs of the elderly who have chronic illnesses. Family members, volunteers, friends, and or medical office schedulers all agree that transportation is a great obstacle to maintaining or improving rural elders' health status. This affects mostly rural senior citizens who do not qualify for transportation services through Medicaid but yet still are not able to pay for taxi fare to get to their appointments. Kaye encourages organizations, doctor's offices, grocery store, and other sites to make transportation information easily available for the elderly so that they may take full advantage of the services that are available to them now.

Travel Problems Afflict Elders' Health (October 15, 2005)
A yearlong study released by the Maine Center on Aging at the University of Maine shows that lack of transportation represents a significant obstacle to maintaining the health of elderly people in rural Maine. Elderly people often have to miss or cancel their appointments because of transportation difficulties. The increasing price of gasoline and the expense of taxi rides contribute to the problem for those on lower incomes. Many seniors are unaware of services available through government programs, private nonprofits and churches. Researchers urge those in the community, such as doctors, municipal offices and grocery stores to help make transportation information easily available. 

Beyond the Statistics: Stories of Struggle (August 21, 2005)

A story published in the Times Leader newspaper of northeastern Pennsylvania, documents the personal accounts of several aging men and women in centers across rural America. The article describes how customary barriers associated with aging, including declining health and mobility issues, are made worse for seniors who are living in the country. The elderly in these areas often feel isolated, and detached. As Pastor Steve Atanasoff pointed out, life in the country can be very difficult: "The problem is much more pervasive than people realize."

Aging Agriculturists (July 26, 2005)
With the lure of jobs in the city, many people want to work traditional nine-to-five office jobs. Fewer and fewer young Americans are choosing to enter the field of farming. This has left in the field a predominately "older" occupation, with the average age of farmers being 55. A recent surge has been noted in the number of elderly farmers in the country today. This rise is being attributed to a lesser degree of strenuous manual of labor involved with the job (with recent technology), a hesitation to retire at age 65, and the increased lifespan of all people. Dennis Vercler, an Illinois farmer cited the independence of farming as one of the possible reasons for the increased age of farmers, "They don't have a boss to say, 'You should really stop now,'" he said. 

Doctors Rarely Attracted to Rural Clinics (July 15, 2005)
Fat salaries, loaded benefits and other material incentives have been more than enough reason to cause a recent flock of physicians to move from rural centers to highly urban ones. The rural, remote centers are now suffering more than ever from a lack of physicians. Forced to take action, rural areas have now started to compete with the high-profile rewards provided elsewhere-they are now willing to offer a one-time tax credit of $20,000 for any physician who serves at least 350 Medicare patients in a rural health clinic. Wayne Allard, a politician commented on the issue: "Rural health care is a critical part of our health care system," Allard said. "Rural Americans shouldn't receive second-rate health care because they are far from a large city." He is most certainly correct!

US: Computers Link Doctors, Rural Patients (June 20, 2005)
New advancements in the world of medical technology are exactly what the "doctor ordered" to assist in the treatment of elderly individuals in rural areas. Newly installed technology is now used to create perfect medical records for patients. Soon doctors also will be able to send and receive medical information across long distances or can confer over a patient and trade expert opinions. Heart tests in real time can be viewed by doctors miles away in real time. And the list goes on. Robotic mechanisms may soon even allow top surgeons in major metropolises to operate on their rural patients who have limited access to physicians in their hometowns. Utah Senator Conrad Burns, an advocate for the expansion of medical technology, commented, "We have such an aging population, and we have 14 counties that have no doctor." "We are going to have to deliver our services in different ways."

Farm Groups Joining Democrats to Fight Bush on Social Security (June 15, 2005)
The American Corn Growers Association, the National Farmers Union and almost two dozen other rural groups will announce today a coalition that is joining with Democratic lawmakers and activists to oppose Bush's Social Security private accounts plan. Bush's plan "is a way to get more money into the coffers of corporations,'' said Keith Bolin, a self-described conservative Republican and head of the 14,000-member corn growers group.

Federal Cuts Pinch Rural Health Care 20,000 in Michigan Stand to Lose in Reductions (May 29, 2005)
What does Medicare decide to do when 20,000 of Michigan's sick elderly and disabled are located in remote locations with hospitals miles away? They decide to make health care even more inaccessible! Recent cuts in the budget of rural health care in Michigan have left over 20,000 individuals, hopeless. Programs are being eliminated, the number of homecare workers is being cut back, and amongst it all-further cuts are down the road. 
"The ones who are losing out are the ones with the least access to health care services," said Chris Chesny, president of the Mid-Michigan Visiting Nurses Association.
People in rural areas, clearly disadvantaged to begin with, will now have even fewer resources to depend on. Unfair!

Farmers Near Retirement Age Still Working (May 25, 2005) 
Many US farmers work very hard thoughout their lives, even at a age when a lot of people have already retired. There are many reasons. First, emotionally it can be very difficult for older farmers to leave the only life they have ever known. Then, their land represents their biggest investment. They prefer to keep the farm in the family than sell it to a stranger. And farmers, often, worry for their children who perhaps won't find any job in the city. The farm represents financial safety for all the generations.

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers: Health Insurance Coverage and Access to Care (April 2005)

Nearly three million workers earn their living through migrant or seasonal farm labor. Migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families confront health challenges stemming from the nature of their work, their extreme poverty and mobility, and living and working arrangements that impede access to health coverage and care. This brief provides an overview of migrant and seasonal farmworkers and the health challenges they face and considers options for improving their health coverage and access to care.

Who Will Care For Our Elderly? (March 6, 2005)
The White River Health Care Center, in South Dakota, is an example of a growing problem for nursing homes and older persons. Elderly care faces a divergence of disturbing trends: an aging population and a decline in nursing assistants. Thus, South Dakota could start losing nursing homes in large numbers during the next decade, while elderly' needs are growing.

In a Desolate Town, Her Dreams a Bit Faded, an Aging Dancer Hangs On (January 14, 2004)
Thirty-six years ago, New York-born Madam Marta Becket found herself stranded with a flat tire in Death Valley Junction, while traversing the country with her former husband as a traveling stage performer. After a few jaunts around the small desert town, Madam Becket decided never to leave, and began renovating and performing in the town's abandoned social hall.  Since then, the 79-year-old has been the owner, manager, choreographer, seamstress, prop master and ticket taker of the small theater, giving fifty performances a season.

Wellington Place assisted living resident in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, turns 108 years old in February 2004. (January 12, 2004)
Walter Keppen of Fort Atkinson , Wisconsin will turn 108 in February. Living in an assisted living home since 1995, Keppen is still alert and healthy. A former farmer, this "stubborn" man built his life on the principles of "hard work and love for family," as well as his "love for sweets and an occasional beer." Keppen's youngest son still runs the family farm.

Report: Chronic Disease Management in Rural Areas: Rural and Urban Differences in Managed Medicare and Medicaid Programs (2004)
This is the 3rd year report of a project reflecting the work of researchers, clinicians, clinic administrators, and clinic staff examining chronic disease management efforts in rural areas. This report focuses on rural chronic disease management efforts with Medicare and Medicaid populations. Health professionals that serve rural and urban populations have observed several elements documenting rural discrimination, including isolated elderly who lack transportation, reduced availability of ancillary services, variation in medical practice, and patterns of certain rural physicians.

Copyright © Global Action on Aging
Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us