Isolated Seniors, Continued


In a previous post, I introduced a study on the issues facing isolated seniors, in terms of programs and benefits that are important to their health and safety.

There are a number of additional important points that should be made about the results of that study. 

Not surprisingly, in a large country with a still significant rural population, “geography is the single most important factor that contributes to isolation of seniors.”  About 8% of isolated seniors are so challenged primarily because of where they live.

Areas with higher population density, typically urban areas, tend to have far-reaching and reliable public transportation and communication systems, which provide means for seniors who live alone to obtain the benefits assistance they need.

Transportation and communication infrastructure weaknesses in more rural settings are definite contributors to isolation.  If one combines the infrastructure problems with lower income, the impact is multiplied.

 Below is a table of percentages of isolated seniors, versus the total senior population.  Some of the numbers are obvious.  Many of the mountain and plains states one might expect to have a higher percentage of isolation.  However, seeing where the District of Columbia and New York and Pennsylvania fall was a surprise, at least to me.

State % of Seniors Classified as Isolated
Alabama 17 – 19
Alaska 20 – 34
Arizona 11 – 16
Arkansas 20 – 34
California 11 – 16
Colorado 17 – 19
Connecticut 11 – 16
Delaware 11 – 16
District of Columbia 20 – 34
Florida 11 – 16
Georgia 11 – 16
Hawaii 11 – 16
Idaho 20 – 34
Illinois 17 – 19
Indiana 17 – 19
Iowa 17 – 19
Kansas 20 – 34
Kentucky 17 – 19
Louisiana 17 – 19
Maine 20 – 34
Maryland 11 – 16
Massachusetts 17 – 19
Michigan 11 – 16
Minnesota 20 – 34
Mississippi 20 – 34
Missouri 17 – 19
Montana 20 – 34
Nebraska 20 – 34
Nevada 11 – 16
New Hampshire 11 – 16
New Jersey 11 – 16
New Mexico 20 – 34
New York 17 – 19
North Carolina 11 – 16
North Dakota 20 – 34
Ohio 17 – 19
Oklahoma 17 – 19
Oregon 17 – 19
Pennsylvania 17 – 19
Rhode Island 17 – 19
South Carolina 11 – 16
South Dakota 20 – 34
Tennessee 17 – 19
Texas 17 – 19
Utah 11 – 16
Vermont 17 – 19
Virginia 11 – 16
Washington 11 – 16
West Virginia 20 – 34
Wisconsin 17 – 19
Wyoming 20 – 34

 Interestingly, at a time when there is substantial – and loud – debate about revamping (or dismantling) Medicare, this study points to that program as the central nervous system of any new effort to address the challenges of isolation and extend appropriate programs and benefits to isolated seniors.  Hopefully, this issue will become part of the political dialogue and decision making around that core program.

Best wishes, Bert

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