Aging in Place in Rural Communities
Older adults are valuable members of rural communities and should be supported in their desire to age in place.
However, aging in place in rural communities comes with unique challenges and opportunities. Although rural
communities are home to a higher proportion of older residents, rural
communities provide fewer services than metro core communities in categories such as:
- Civic engagement
- Nutrition services
- Social services
While rural areas offer many benefits, supporting aging in place may require
more careful planning and coordination than in other settings.
Nearly 90% of older
adults would like to remain in their homes for as long as possible. However, the physical changes brought
on by aging — vision and hearing changes, cognitive decline, mobility limitations, and self-care difficulties,
among others — can impact older adults' ability to age in place.
of older adults receive caregiving for health or other reasons (such as household chores or transportation), and
adult children were the largest group of caregivers. However, younger populations — prime-age
workers aged 25 to 54 — are leaving rural communities, creating challenges for older adults who
depend upon help from adult children or other family members.
insecurity is a barrier for rural populations, and many older adults are burdened by the cost
of paying for their housing, specifically. Rural seniors who cannot stay in their own homes for physical
or financial reasons have fewer
housing and rental options than seniors who live in urban areas. Rural seniors who rent their housing
are more likely to experience problems
with housing affordability than those who own their homes. This may make it difficult for rural older
adults to stay in their community as they age.
Another important consideration for aging in place is access to
transportation. In rural communities, the private automobile is the primary mode of transportation for
more than 90%
of trips. However, as older adults transition from the driver's seat to the passenger's seat, they must
consider how they will travel to medical appointments, buy groceries, and take other trips. Social connectedness
is associated with positive health outcomes.
Finally, food insecurity is a problem that impacts the health and well-being of older adults. Tools are available to support
healthy nutrition among older adults in communities.
This toolkit will provide program models and strategies to support older adults aging in place in rural
Resources to Learn More
Helping Rural Seniors Age in Place
Provides state-level strategies for supporting growing numbers of older adults aging in rural communities.
Author(s): Ewing, J.
Organization(s): National Conference of State Legislatures
for the Aging Population: Rural Responses to the Challenge
This document provides and overview of some of the main demographic issues related to aging rural populations,
as well as examples of program models to help support older adults in rural areas.
Organization(s): National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)
Aging in Place in Rural America
Describes some of the key issues related to aging in place in rural America, as well as strategies that can help
support older adults living in rural communities.
Author(s): Schroeder, M.
Citation: U.S. News & World Report