Comparison of Well-Being of Older People in Three Rural and Urban Locations

HRD-80-41: Published: Feb 8, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 8, 1980.

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GAO assessed the well-being of older people in rural and urban areas. Information was provided about older people living in Cleveland, Ohio, Lane County, Oregon, and the Gateway Health District, northeastern Kentucky. The locations were selected because comparable data were available for people 65 years old and older living there. Information was obtained about five areas of functioning: social, economic, mental, physical, and activities of daily living.

With respect to health, security, loneliness, and outlook on life, GAO found that the people in rural northeastern Kentucky were generally in worse condition than those in Cleveland or Lane County. Older people living in Lane County were the least impaired in terms of their ability to do daily tasks such as preparing meals and bathing. At all of the locations, a significant percentage of the older people needed one or more kinds of help. Many of those needing help were not receiving all the help needed. This unmet need was greatest in Kentucky. The predominant source of help for older people in rural Lane County and in Kentucky was family and friends. Help in urban Lane County and in Cleveland was more likely to come from a combination of agency assistance and family and friends.

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