A 1989 survey of the State Units on Aging (SUAs) produced five themes that seem to underlie the many barriers to the delivery of services to the rural elderly. A systematic review of these five themes led to the identification of 34 specific challenges or barriers, which were then placed under the appropriate theme. Such a schema has been outlined in order to aid social service providers, researchers, and students in making sense of the problems faced by the increasing number of rural elderly. In addition, in order to assess the relative importance of these barriers, a second survey of 172 "resource persons" in the field of rural aging provided data showing, by theme, which barriers are perceived to be of most importance.

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