Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Maine Rural Health Research Center Releases Study on the "Oldest Old"

The Maine Rural Health Research Center's latest report, "Residential Settings and Healthcare Use of the Rural 'Oldest Old' Medicare Population" examined how rural and urban Medicare beneficiaries aged 85 and over (85+) differed on characteristics associated with the use of long-term services and supports.

This study used Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data to profile rural and urban Medicare beneficiaries aged 85+ with respect to their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, the residential settings in which they live, their health and functional status, and their healthcare use. In addition to some demographic and socioeconomic differences, rural beneficiaries aged 85+ had greater functional limitations, were more likely to live alone in the community or in nursing homes, and less likely to reside in assisted living facilities.

The study team--Nathan Paluso, Zachariah Croll, Deb Thayer, Jean Talbot, and Andy Coburn--concluded that the reliance on nursing homes in rural areas may partly be due to a scarcity of home and community-based services (HCBS) options. "The growing evidence of increased cost-effectiveness of HCBS," they write, "suggests the importance of federal and state policies that support expanded access to and use of these services in rural communities.”

For more information on this study, please contact Jean Talbot (jean.talbot@maine.edu)