A free public presentation tonight in Ames tackles aging in rural America. Maurice MacDonald, chair of ISU’s department of human development and family studies, says Iowa is ahead of many in studying issues of the elderly who live in rural areas. The rural elderly have some unique issues that ISU’s studying to see if there are public policy topics that should be tackled by the university as part of its duty to improve the state. Whether the distances between people in rural area present transportation issues, and if the shrinking rural towns where families have moved away offer fewer of the family support services that then must be replaced with publicly funded government programs. MacDonald says Iowa’s already taken a look at some of those issues. Things like where healthcare facilities are sited, what Medicare reimburses providers — generally Iowa’s preparing the infrastructure to deal with an aging population and we’re ahead of many communities as our elderly population’s a picture of what much of the country will look like in the future. Tonight’s presentation marks the start of a year’s presence by an internationally recognized scholar on aging issues. John Krout directs the Gerontology Institute at Ithaca College in New York state, and McDonald says upstate New York is “quite a rural place,” outside of a few big cities.
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