In 2010, an estimated 41 million Americans were 65 years of age or older. By 2030, that number is estimated to reach over 72 million, representing 19% of the total population.

In a "Chats in the Stacks" book talk, Nina Glasgow, David L. Brown, and Douglas T. Gurak discuss how population aging is more rapid in rural areas of the United States. Many elderly need to rely more heavily on family or friends for transportation or have a greater reliance on cars.

Access to other infrastructure including health care, elder day care centers, or grocery stores is also more complicated in rural places, and smaller populations makes support of these services more difficult. Understanding the characteristics of rural elders, including their family status and living conditions, has become an important challenge in the 21st Century.