Senior Man Lost In Thought

Faced with a deficit of nursing assistants and home health aids, rural areas lack the workforce they need for people to age in place, new research finds

Home health aides and nursing assistants are crucial for helping an aging population stay in their homes instead of moving to a nursing home or other facility. Yet new research finds rural areas not only have more older residents, but lack the workforce needed to help them “age in place.”

Compared to urban areas, rural areas have nearly 35% fewer home health aides for their aging populations, finds new research by Janette Dill and coauthors at the University of Minnesota. There are only 32.8 home health aides per 1,000 older adults in rural areas, compared with 50.4 in urban areas, the team determined.

Further, rural areas have just 20.9 nursing assistants per 1,000 older adults compared with 25.3 in urban areas—a 17% gap. These differences underscore geographic inequities in the availability of care, which may constrain who is able to age in place.

Diana Elliott & Mark Mather (July 2024). Rural America Is Aging—Without Enough Care Workers. Population Reference Bureau.

Janette Dill et al. (2023) Who Will Care for Rural Older Adults? Measuring the Direct Care Workforce in Rural Areas. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 42(8).