When focusing on seniors we typically think about the ones that live in cities, not those living in rural areas. This actually represents a large number of seniors that face their own special challenges.
What Are the Numbers Of Seniors Living in Rural Communities?
One quarter of all seniors live in rural communities, that’s about 10.6 million older adults. They represent a much larger fraction than urban seniors of their local populations. Approximately 17.5% of rural residents are over 65, while only about 14% of urban residents are older adults. Three-quarters of rural older adults live in the South and Midwest, but nearly two-thirds of senior citizens live in rural communities in states like Maine and Vermont.
The more rural the area, the older the community is. Census found that residents 65 or older are about 20 percent of what it calls “completely rural” communities.
Less Caregiving and More Sickness
Unfortunately, physical health in seniors living in rural communities is worse and they are more likely to suffer from chronic disease. Rural communities have younger people leaving them, heading off to the cities. This leaves the elderly with fewer caregiving age relatives than those in cities.
In rural communities, it’s more difficult to find caregivers, whether it’s a family member or paid help.
What Are Senior Challenges in Rural Communities?
Finding ways of transportation can be a difficult challenge in rural communities. Public transportation is almost non-existent and there are no ridesharing apps, such as Uber. Especially in winter getting around comes with its extra battles. In rural communities getting to your local shopping or health care facility can be quite the distance.
It’s common for these communities to not have full-time physicians and even no hospitals or clinics in the area. Along with there being no nursing homes in rural counties. Also, the quality of health care is often lower. Often medicare certified home care programs aren’t around, so providers have to travel many miles to deliver care if it’s even available at all.
Living in a multistory home is more common in rural seniors, making it more difficult to navigate. The neighbors live longer distances and even the mailbox can be farther to get to than in the city.
Maintaining social relationships can be challenging when your long distances a part. Many children leave these isolated areas to work in the big cities and neighbors have passed away or moved. Living alone in the country can be isolating and lonely, which can be debilitating.
What Are The Solutions?
Solutions exist. For example, in rural areas faith communities are particularly important. They can work together to help congregants in need of assistance.
Local governments and other non-profits create programs to help seniors age at home. For homebound seniors, services like Meals on Wheels or even postal workers may check in. Several organisations, such as FeonixMobilityRising, help community groups create transport networks by connecting volunteers to those in need of transportation.
Older adults are often neglected. Ignoring those who live in rural communities might be easy, but we need to remember that these seniors are also important.
(Article courtesy of The Fairmont Grand Senior Living)
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