Aging in Place“Care Deserts”

age in place in home care


You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.

-Cesar Chavez

Aging in Place

Ever play the desert island game? You remember: If you were stuck on a desert island, what _________________________(fill in the blank)? We would make some rule as you can only bring 3 books, or 3 movies, or 3 food items, or 3 personal things, or 3 people to keep you company…And as a young man, I can recall in the locker room being asked: Mary Ann or Ginger? A dead-give-away for anyone in the boomer cohort.

Luckily, (or maybe not so lucky) most of us never ended up on a secluded desert island–although we may have fantasized about it–not until lately, that is…

Care Deserts

I was reading an article a while back by Meg Brown (February 11, 2015) about a study led by Iowa State University concerning older adults living in rural states who are at risk due to lack of access to resources they need. The phenomenon is called “Care deserts” — or areas where it’s difficult to access resources such as transportation or medical care —which leave older adults without the means to stay healthy, active, and independent.

The study uncovered an alarming trend in analyzing characteristics of states with the highest population of people over 50–They discovered that 14 of the 20 oldest states were also rural. The implications of these data are far-reaching and consequential.

Rural communities are often without resources that actually define the urban environment. For example, public transit, assisted living, home-based care, clinics, easy access to shops, civic centers, and grocery stores. The unintended consequence of rural living is premature institutionalization. The article goes on to cite 76 percent of assisted living facilities are in metropolitan centers and to make things more challenging, assisted living centers in rural areas are 40 percent smaller.

The research states that in Iowa, 93 percent of Iowans over 50 favor aging in place over institutional settings; while Iowa ranks second in the nation for the number of older adults entering long-term care facilities.

Every Form of Refuge has its Price

Rural America is prime for home and community-based care; the fact is caring for older adults in LTC facilities is far more costly. Further, the research found that the funds required to keep 1 older adult in LTC could cover the costs of 3 living with home-community-based care.

As baby boomers dreaming of exotic islands and living happily-ever-after, the “Care Desert” and its lack of support, was not the kind of dessert we planned to be stuck on.



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