Who Will Care for Rural Older Adults? Measuring the Direct Care Workforce in Rural Areas

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University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center's Policy Brief

This policy brief helps to make it clear that residents living in rural areas will find it increasingly more difficult to get health care as easily as their urban counterparts.

The purpose of the research:

Direct care workers are an essential part of supporting an aging rural population, particularly as more individuals favor aging in place over nursing homes and require in-home assistance with activities of daily living. Aging in place generally refers to older adults remaining in their homes and communities as they age, rather than relocating or moving into an institutional setting. The purpose of this policy brief is to examine existing disparities in the supply of home health aides and nursing assistants in rural
areas compared to urban areas.

Key findings:
  • They found find that there are, on average, 32.9 home health aides per 1,000 older adults (age 65+) in rural areas and 50.4 home health aides per 1,000 older adults in urban areas.
  • There are, on average, 20.9 nursing assistants per 1,000 older adults in rural areas and 25.3 nursing
    assistants per 1,000 older adults in urban areas
  • These findings indicate that the ratio of home health aides in urban areas relative to the older adult population is about 34.7% larger than the ratio in rural areas, and the ratio of nursing assistants in urban areas is 17.4% times larger than the ratio in rural areas.

To access the brief visit: https://rhrc.umn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/UMN-Policy-Brief_Who-will-care-for-rural-older-adults-1.pdf

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