Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Aging population creates greater concerns for care, transportation, housing options in rural areas

Like many states with significant rural populations, Kansas is aging. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2030 nearly 25 percent of the state's population will be older than 60, up from the current share of about 16 percent, Jan Biles reports for The Topeka Capital-Journal. "That means more people will be thinking about retirement, elder care and late-in-life housing options in the coming years. And while additional services for older adults will be needed, experts on aging note that fewer dollars likely will be available to pay for them."(Census chart: U.S. population 65 and older estimates)
Jocelyn Lyons, executive director of Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging, told Biles, “We truly have an aging boom that’s coming up on us. The question is how well prepared are we for this aging population. … The basic resources are available, but expansion of those resources are what we really need to be focused on.”

Transportation is already a problem in many rural areas, creating challenges for seniors to go to the doctor, shop for groceries or participate in social events, Biles writes. Another problem is "making sure those between the ages of 60 and 65 who are too young to qualify for Medicare have access to affordable health care insurance." Also, an increase in older residents will lead to an increase in chronic illnesses, leading to more affordable care needed for those who would rather stay at home than transition to assisted living or nursing homes.

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