Conditions Facilitating Aging in Place in Rural Communities: The Case of Smart Senior Towns in Iowa

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2023-01
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Matysiak, IIona
Peters, David J.
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Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) conducts innovative public policy and economic research on agricultural, environmental, and food issues. CARD uniquely combines academic excellence with engagement and anticipatory thinking to inform and benefit society.

CARD researchers develop and apply economic theory, quantitative methods, and interdisciplinary approaches to create relevant knowledge. Communication efforts target state and federal policymakers; the research community; agricultural, food, and environmental groups; individual decision-makers; and international audiences.

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The article explores why some small rural communities affected by population aging deal better with this challenge than others, by analyzing the data from the Iowa Small Towns Project (ISTP). The analysis is based on comparisons between ‘smart senior’ towns and ‘vulnerable senior’ towns. The former are defined as aged, but provide good quality senior services according to senior citizens, while the latter are also aged but senior services are rated much lower. Drawing from the aging in place and quality of life literatures, the analysis is focused on several domains, including local services, social capital, as well as opportunities for socializing, leisure, and community engagement. It also encompasses comparisons between two main age groups: residents aged 65+ andthose under 65. The findings indicate that smart senior towns score higher on most indicators compared with vulnerable ones. However, the assessments of older residents are significantly more positive than those of younger cohorts.
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