Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 4 » Rural Elderly - The Changing Rural Older Adult Population, Characteristics Of Rural Older Adults, Health And Home- And Community-based Service Use Among Rural Older Adults

Rural Elderly - Characteristics Of Rural Older Adults

age social urban people living residents

As stated previously, nonmetropolitan older adults are more likely than their metropolitan counterparts to have low incomes (below 200 percent of poverty) and lower lifetime earnings that negatively impact social security benefits (Krout, 1994). At the same time, they derive a higher proportion of their incomes from social security (Coburn and Bolda). The rural elderly are more likely than older urban residents to rely on Medicaid, because of lower lifetime earnings, or Medicare as their sole health insurance provider. Although rural older persons are more likely than urban older adults to own their homes outright, their homes tend to be of lower value and in need of repair compared to the homes of urban elderly people (Coburn and Bolda). Coburn and Bolda also describe rural or nonmetropolitan elderly people as significantly more likely than their urban or metropolitan counterparts to rate their health as fair or poor and to have problems doing activities of daily living, increasing their risk of premature mortality and diminished life satisfaction.

In contrast to popular notions about rural life, there is little evidence that older adults living in rural areas have more extensive kin networks from which to draw informal support than their urban counterparts (Coward and Cutler). Although rural elders are more likely than urban residents to be married, providing a source of assistance when needed, Stoller points out that the rural-urban difference in marital rates disappears by age eighty-five, when older people are more likely to need assistance. Stoller also points out that about one-third of rural elders are widowed. By age eighty-five, over 80 percent of rural women are widows, compared to 40 percent of men. Given more traditional views of marital roles among older rural couples, particularly among husbands who often assume responsibility for transportation and finances, older rural widows are at high risk for financial vulnerability due to a lifetime of unpaid work and isolation. Remote locations and small community sizes that limit sources of assistance, combined with the outmigration of younger family members, places rural older adults in a vulnerable position concerning access to formal services and the availability of informal assistance from outside the home when needed.

On the positive side, older people living in rural areas are more likely than their urban counterparts to be married and less likely to be divorced until age eighty-five, when this rural advantage disappears (Stoller). Rural farm, but not necessarily nonfarm, elders are more likely than urban residents to live with or near at least one of their children. According to Lee et al., this child is often also engaged in the farm enterprise. Aside from the results of statistical comparisons, an obvious conclusion is that the majority of older persons living in rural areas are there because they prefer this environment: they have chosen to live in locations that are quieter and less populated, so their lives are less impacted than those of urban residents by the press of humanity. Fewer amenities and complex supportive services are not a problem as long as functional independence can be maintained.

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almost 7 years ago

Rural Elderly - Characteristics Of Rural Older Adults