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Government needs to do more for elderly rural communities

24th July 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A study by the charity Age UK has revealed that daily life can be particularly difficult for older people who live in rural communities. The report has resulted in the charity calling upon the government to do more to ensure that those living in rural communities feel safe and secure and have access to the services they need.

Public services have been cut in many areas across the country as the government aims to make the deficit smaller by cutting spending, and rural areas have been some of the places that have been hit hardest by this. Cuts to a number of essential public services in rural areas have meant that people are being forced to travel further away to get what they need, including groceries and healthcare, and the difficulties that older people face in terms of this are compounded due to cuts to public transportation services.

This problem particularly affects the lives of people that need to use assisted bathing solutions and other independent-living devices as the same mobility issues which require the use of these devices can make travel difficult; going to the post office may have been possible when it was in the local village, but going further without the help of public transport is impossible for many with mobility difficulties.

Figures have revealed that there are more older people in rural areas than urban areas, with around 50% of the rural population aged 45 and over, which means that this age group is one of the most affected by budget cuts in rural areas. On top of this, the number of people aged 65 and over requiring social care in rural areas has been estimated to increase by 70% over the next 16 years, and Michelle Mitchell, director general of Age UK, has said that it is already a challenge to get "adequate social care" in rural environments. Along with the high cost of heating in poorly insulated housing, lack of public services and location away from the mains gas grid, she concludes that life in the countryside is difficult for many.

Whereas the home can be a safe and secure environment for older people thanks to mobility aids such as stair lifts, many rural towns and villages cannot offer this environment in terms of the services that their older communities need. Age UK's call for action from the government demonstrates that more needs to be done to ensure that older people are able to find the services they need outside the home.

 

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