Rural Virginians Will be Really Old by 2040

Image credit: StatChat. Click for more legible image.

Like every other state in the union, Virginia’s population is getting older. The trend is particularly pronounced in rural jurisdictions, as seen in these maps compiled by Shonel Sen with the Demographics Research Group at the University of Virginia and published in the StatChat blog.

Everyone seems so focused on immediate problems that localities have given little attention to what things will be like in 23 years when the 65+ demographic comprises more than 20% of the population across most of the state. Given the inability of most Baby Boomers to accumulate much wealth, how many of these elders be poor? Given the tendency of young people to move away, will the rural elderly have caretakers? Given the pressures on rural hospitals and the increasingly acute shortage of doctors, will the elderly have adequate access to health care?

I suppose it’s human nature to ignore distant problems until they become immediate problems, so I’m guessing nothing will be done until these issues reach crisis proportions. This is America. That’s how we roll.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

5 responses to “Rural Virginians Will be Really Old by 2040

  1. Thanks for the post. This is part of my continuing theme of why it’s important to cut rural Virginia’s umbilical chord now as opposed to later.

    If you want to live in rural Virginia, fine. Do so. That’s your choice, and I’ll respect it. But it’s time for the state to reevaluate its funding formulas to more realistically reflect population. Right now, the composite index is weighted heavily towards rural Virginia. Road funding is also almost farcical in the state when compared to need (you’ll never convince me that 95% of the new projects in rural Virginia are truly “needed” compared to the need in NoVa.) Anyone notice that, completely against state law and policy, the General Assembly passed a special appropriation for “coalfield county” schools this past session?

    And this post really nails the growing tsunami…..if you keep subsidizing people in rural Virginia (who are already older) God help you in 20 years. We’ll end up having state-run hospitals and nursing homes in SWVA paid for by NoVa. I’ll guarantee it.

    It will be much easier if the state cuts off the sugar water right now rather than 15 or 20 years in the future when you’re stuck with a truly pathetic scene of globs of 70-80 year olds out there with no hospitals/nursing homes/health aides…..and begging for the Urban Crescent to fund them.

  2. Old people need more medical care and opioid treatment and public transit and social network services wherever they are located. LGG strikes me as one of those people who say, get the undesirables out of MY jurisdiction so they don’t cost ME an arm-and-a-leg. But they only become someone else’s problem. Cutting off the “sugar water” in order to force the dependent population to leave will only create “age ghettos” somewhere else. Along the way we’ll have forced the liquidation of whatever assets they have left, and compelled them to move to higher cost (“urban crescent”) regions with a better safety net of services. I don’t think the efficiencies of urban densities can come close to offsetting the higher cost of living in the urban environment.

    The thing about a demographic impact is its inevitability. You can make it someone else’s problem, you can ignore it, refuse to address it; but you can’t make it go away (short of genocide). We have an aging population and it is concentrating in those portions of Virginia which any young person with a brain and initiative would leave, and is leaving, absent an overarching love for the countryside he grew up in.

    We are not subsidizing our aging rural population inappropriately — ASSUMING we intend to offer a safety net to our elderly poor to enable them to live comfortably SOMEWHERE. If that assumption is not part of LGG’s premise, then anything goes.

    • Interesting point, Acbar. Assuming that we’re going to provide some level of care for the elderly through Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, etc., then it does make fiscal sense to provide that care in a lower-cost setting — which would be in the rural areas.

      My primary concern is rethinking how we provide medical care in rural areas too sparsely populated to support traditional hospitals and too poor to attract physicians. There are potential answers, but we need to start thinking about them now.

    • Eh, not exactly. My premise is that you should be forced to accept the consequences of your decisions. If you choose to live in an area where all young people are leaving, you should know that, more than likely, health care services are going to dry up relatively soon. Hospitals, nursing homes, other health care providers can’t (or won’t) subsist on Medicare/Medicaid alone. They’ll eventually pull out of the region.

      I truly believe that in 10-20 years, we will see legislators from SWVA demanding that the Commonwealth open up and run hospitals and nursing homes in that portion of the state. How do you feel about paying for a Commonwealth of Virginia owned and operated hospital? Don’t believe me? Look at this year’s “coalfield counties” schools sneaky appropriation. SWVA already gets unrealistic funding from the state for its schools and all of a sudden it gets a special appropriation?

  3. Why are we complaining about the LCI and roads if the rural folks are old ..children gone and driving far less?

    In terms of hospitals and nursing homes -aren’t the folks in rural Va ENTITLED to the SAME health care benefits that others in the state receive?

    and I’m not seeing actual numbers here on LCI and roads anyhow.. it’s a longstanding claim – not substantiated…

    the LCI – is a Constitutionally required funding such that each child in Virginia – regardless of where they live – DOES RECEIVE an minimum standard education regardless of local economy and resources.

    but how does that even play into the current scenario of kids leaving the rural and older left behind anyhow?

    “Commonwealth-owned and operated hospital”?

    nope… ALL Hospitals – across the state ARE subsidized for patients that cannot pay – including the indigent in the urban areas which are in far larger numbers than rural…

    Finally – where does the current Federal/State funding of metro come from ? Doesn’t it come from all taxpayers – across the state?

    Sorry – LGG – you are way off on a tangent here…

    NOW.. if the GOP … REALLY DOES GUT MedicAid – then you ARE going to see some horrendous impacts – in the rural – but also in the urban and especially in the low-income urban areas…

    There is a certain ugly irony here to NoVa – basically sucking on the govt teat for it’s jobs… Federal jobs… funded by taxpayers across Va… and deficit-financed at that!

Leave a Reply