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Health and Housing Expert Forum: Aging in Place in Rural Communities

Welcome to the BPC Health and Housing Expert Forum. Bimonthly, contributors from different parts of the health and housing sectors will be invited to respond to a discussion topic. Have a question you’d like us to consider? Please leave it in the comments.

Any views expressed on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Senior Health and Housing Task Force, its co-chairs or the Bipartisan Policy Center.


For older adults living in rural communities, the challenge of aging in place is often magnified. What specific programs and policies have proven successful and could be replicated?


By Joe Belden

Almost 26 percent of the nation’s seniors live in rural areas. As the baby boom generation continues to age, unique challenges will be placed on housing and supportive services for rural seniors, who experience more poverty than seniors nationally. Rural America is also aging faster than the nation overall, due to both natural population change and the continuing exodus of younger adults. Housing conditions are different for rural senior renters and homeowners. Rural seniors typically own their homes, many of them outright. While most seniors are happy with their homes, the physical changes of aging can impact the capacity to age in place successfully. Rural seniors who rent are also significantly more likely to experience problems with housing affordability than those who own.

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Aging in Place in Rural America

By Terry Hill

For older adults living in rural communities in the United States, the challenge of living independently as long as possible is magnified. Long distances, lack of transportation, as well as limited senior housing options, create barriers that too often find rural seniors in housing options that do not maximize their independence, and sometimes separate them from their families. Ironically, people who live in rural America and have strong independent values often find themselves in highly dependent situations in the final stages of their lives.

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Providing Options to Rural Older Adults

By Suzanne Anarde

Housing for older adults in rural areas is, indeed, an issue that we must continue to address. Aging in place is a priority for a majority of rural elderly residents as they strive to remain close to children and grandchildren, old friends, and their communities.

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