aging in rural america

Lisa Gillespie/Side Effects Public Media

Gene Emerson is a gregarious character – but he wasn’t always this way. In 2003, his wife of 42 years died.

“I had a couple of bad years after I lost my wife. It was kindly bad, you know?” Emerson said. “I got depressed and lost about 30 pounds. And I was weak.”

Lisa Gillespie/Side Effects Public Media

Dennis Pond doesn’t tell his psychiatrist about his thoughts of suicide.  But he has them. He often feels useless, in large part because his diabetes has caused terrible pain and numbness in his feet, and that affects his ability to drive, to help out around the house, to even go out in the yard.

Lisa Gillespie/Side Effects Public Media

Getting to Anne Polston’s house is a journey: first, you have to get to Liberty, a town about two hours southeast of Louisville. Then, there’s a winding eight-mile road that’s largely one-lane, and sometimes just gravel.