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Rural elderly ‘struggling’ – Age UK

Older people in rural communities are suffering more from cuts to local services, a new Age UK poll has found.

Later Life in Rural England highlights a lack of public transport as the biggest challenge for one in four people over sixty living in the countryside. Other obstacles include a lack of nearby shops and services, the high cost of heating and living, a lack of access to health and social care and poor broadband provision.

The proportion of elderly people is higher in rural England than in major urban areas, with half the population aged over 45 compared to 36% respectively. Rural social care needs for the elderly are also projected to increase by 70% over the next 16 years.

Age UK is calling for Government to take the elderly population into account when developing rural programmes, with decisions not based simply on cost or on the number of users.

Prevention of loneliness must also be a priority, and elderly communities should be involved when planning services, the report states.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK’s charity director general, said: “Life in rural England is very tough for many people. Too many are stranded at home, lonely and isolated, struggling to the shops, Post Office and even hospital, because of a lack of local bus services.

“The high cost of heating because so many rural homes are badly insulated and are off the mains gas grid as well as the challenge of getting adequate social care all add up to make life in the countryside difficult for many and far from the stereotype of a rural paradise.

“With rural communities ageing rapidly, it’s more critical than ever that the Government and local authorities make sure that the older people who live there, many of them frail and vulnerable, have access to the services and facilities they need to live as independent and fulfilling lives as possible.”

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