Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recessionary budget cuts are hard on rural elderly

What is happening to the standard of life for the elderly in your rural communities? It's time to take a look, based on a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberally oriented Washington research group. It says at least 24 states have cut back on programs for the elderly during the recession, Kirk Johnson of The New York Times reports. Hundreds of millions of dollars more in cuts are on the table for next year.

Census data show the "country’s most rapidly aging places are not the ones that people flock to in retirement, but rather the withering, remote places many of them flee," Johnson writes. As young people continue to leave rural places, "the elderly who remain — increasingly isolated and stranded — face an existence that is distinctively harder by virtue, or curse, of geography than life in cities and suburbs," Johnson reports. A lack of public transportation, medical care and reliable cellphone service also complicate life for the elderly in rural America.

"Some people who study rural America say the tough economic times and new budget woes could make it too difficult for many rural stoics to hang on," Johnson writes. "But others suggest the fortitude of the rural elderly simply runs too deep for that." Teresa Radebaugh, the director of the Regional Institute on Aging at Wichita State University, told Johnson, "The people will remain, because they’re rooted and anchored to the land. They’ll stay no matter what." (Read more)

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