Another voice calls for keeping seniors in their homes

The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services is a citizens’ panel of nationally recognized rural health and human services experts. Each year, the committee highlights key health and human services issues affecting rural communities.

This year’s report examines three key topics in health and human services and their effects in rural areas: home- and community-based care for rural seniors, rural primary care workforce, and rural health care provider integration.

All are topics of particular interest in Todd County, where this month’s census data release confirmed the flat population and the fact that one out of six residents is over 65.

Taking a look at home and community based care for rural seniors, it’s important to understand some basic facts: the elderly population in rural areas is growing rapidly, it’s estimated that there will be an increased need for long-term care and while seniors are happier staying in their own homes, aging in place is difficult because, traditionally, resources have been concentrated on supporting nursing home care.

The National Advisory Committee believes that options for home-based care need to be expanded. The committee recommends “evaluating current laws prohibiting payment to family members for care and coordinating with the Secretary of Transportation to ensure seniors are able to access care.”

Another concern is that there are fewer physicians serving the populations of rural areas.

While much of what the report contains is not news to those of us who live in rural areas, the fact that this has now been recognized by a committee charged with making recommendations may bring about change.

Find out more about the national committee and its recommendations here.

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