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Age in America: Aging in rural communities

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 6 Americans live in rural areas. That's 15% of the population. But a disproportionate number of seniors — 22% — live outside of America's metro areas.
Loess Farms
Posted at 8:32 PM, Jun 20, 2024

This week, Scripps News and WorkingNation present Age in America, an investigation of the challenges facing younger and older Americans.

Today we look at the intersection of older Americans and rural life.

These close-knit communities have advantages such as a slower pace of life, less pollution and more wide-open spaces. But there are also many challenges for older Americans: Health care is often only available at great distances. Transportation to get there and other places can be costly on fixed incomes. Food is getting more expensive. Extreme weather in winter and summer is more life-threatening to older Americans.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 6 Americans live in rural areas. That's 15% of the U.S. population. But a disproportionate number of seniors — 22% — live outside of America's metro areas.

Scripps News spoke with Alana Knudson, the director of the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at the University of Chicago. She told us about the unique challenges of rural life at advanced age, and the ways that society can improve these pain points for older Americans.

Related stories:
Age in America: How to bridge generational gaps in the workplace
Age in America: Ways of addressing the retirement crisis