A partnership to support rural aging in place
Rural populations are aging faster than urban ones, but have fewer resources for older residents. This makes rural aging in place challenging. Without accommodations for changes in health and mobility, older people may leave their homes for more supportive environments.
From 2018 to 2021, the Healthy Aging in Rural Towns (HeART) project sought to improve rural people’s ability to age in place by strengthening support networks for older adults and their family caregivers.
The project involved three rural Wisconsin communities: Iowa County, Langlade County, and the City of Waupun. Each community convened a coalition of older citizens, service providers, and volunteers.
HeART community coalitions gathered information from older adults and family caregivers to learn what would help. Prominent themes included needing: information about existing resources and services, infrastructure to get around the community, and ways to stay involved in community activities.
The coalitions met monthly. Several members reported that the best outcome was increased awareness of each other’s programs. This awareness helped them inform constituents about local resources.
Two HeART communities are funding efforts to continue their coalitions. The other established a municipal committee that will address aging-in-place objectives.