According to AARP, America’s demographic future is showing up first in rural areas, where older residents form a greater proportion of the population than in urban or suburban areas.
One-quarter of all Americans age 65 or older live in small towns and rural communities. That percentage is growing, since the rural population is aging at a faster rate than the nation’s population as a whole.
In June 2019, AARP convened its first-ever national gathering about rural livability — as it relates to people of all ages and, especially, to older adults. Held in Portland, Maine, the event was attended by AARP staff, volunteers, community partners and livability practitioners representing a range of specialties and locations.
The AARP Rural Livability Workshop Report is based on presentations and conversations from that event, as well as related meetings, media sources and AARP’s work in communities throughout the nation.
While the report is by no means an exhaustive examination of the many issues that impact rural communities, the data, observations and examples contained within these pages can serve to inform community influencers — local, state and national officials; policymakers; service providers; advocacy organizations; citizen activists; and others — about the needs, benefits, challenges and solutions found in rural places.