Conference Explores Aging in Rural Oregon

The event, which is being held in Hood River, is sponsored by the Office of Rural Health.

The challenges faced by an aging population in rural communities takes center stage at a conference scheduled for April 20-21.

Sponsored by the Office of Rural Health, the goal is to bring people together to learn from one another about creative innovative ideas, said Scott Ekblad. Often, there are barriers to access in rural areas such as the lack of transportation and a shortage of providers which place a heavy burden on caregivers and families.

“We want to help fill the gaps, and often the best solutions come from the communities themselves,” he added.

Sessions will focus on the filling the gaps of the elder care work force, the behavioral health needs of older adults and adults with physical disabilities and ways to support family caregivers. Another session will explore the dynamic relationship between baby boomer seniors and depression era seniors, such as how someone from either generation can learn how to understand their clients.

According to Ekblad:

  • · 35% of Oregonians live in the rural parts of the state, but 43.5% of the state’s 65+ population lives in rural Oregon
  • · Of urban Oregonians, 14.4% are 65+, but of rural Oregonians, 20.6% are 65+
  • · 65% of Americans 65+ have one or more physical or functional limitations.
  • · The nation’s fastest growing demographic age group is those age 85+. Today there are roughly 5 million in the US. That number will more than double – 11.5 million - by 2035.
  • · An Oregon-based study published in the June 2016 issue of the Journal of Rural Health found that individuals 85 years and older who lived in rural areas dealt with more disease – from diabetes to depression – and took between five and six prescription medications, on average, as compared with fewer than four (3.7) medications, on average, for their urban counterparts.

Diane can be reached at [email protected].

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