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As Arizona ages, rural elderly face lack of access to medical care, services

Arizona is growing older. An estimated 13 percent of Arizonans were age 65 or older in 2009. That percentage is expected to almost double by 2020, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s State Plan on Aging.

That aging is especially pronounced in rural areas. Of the four counties that already had more than one out of five residents age 65 or older in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, all are in rural areas: La Paz, 32.1 percent; Yavapai, 23.8 percent; and Gila and Mohave, 22.4 percent.

As this shift occurs, experts and advocates warn that rural areas in particular will lack the doctors, care homes, transportation and other services needed by an older population.

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