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Research Project
Improving Mobility Among America's Aging Population to Combat Social Isolation

Many of us appreciate the occasional opportunity to disconnect, giving our minds and bodies a chance to recharge, but when isolation becomes long-term and turns into loneliness, the results can be detrimental and potentially devastating, particularly for aging adults. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group's share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent (US Census 2019). Also, average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 78.6 years in 2017, in large part due to the reduction in mortality at older ages.

These societal changes among aging Americans have led to isolation on a greater scale. This is especially true in the rural Midwest, where small urban and rural communities continue to age as disproportionate shares of younger populations move to larger communities pursuing education, employment, and other lifestyle changes. Improving mobility within the aging population in these smaller communities can aid in diminishing isolation while decreasing health related costs as well. Previous research has shown that loneliness has numerous negative health consequences. The objective of this research is to quantify the cost of providing greater mobility options to aging adults in small urban and rural communities to reduce social isolation. This will be compared to the increased medical spending due to isolation. Effort will be taken to quantify the costs at a regional, state, and local level where available.

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050