The opening line in the much loved folk song “In an English Country Garden” asks the question “How many kinds of sweet flowers grow in an English country garden? The rest of the verse reels off favourites such as fox gloves, snowdrops and forget-me-nots.
However it appears from a report out by AgeUK today, that flowers are not the only thing growing in the countryside. According to their survey, there are a growing number of elderly people over the age of 65 in rural areas and this figure is going to rocket by 70% by 2030.
Whilst living in the countryside may seem idyllic to those of us living in urban metropolises, the reality can be very different for those of older years who live in rural areas.
Rural Locations a Challenge
Take for example the simple task of milk. I was talking to a colleague the other day that had recently moved out of North London to the Garden of England. Whilst the peace and tranquillity of living in a rural area certainly has its advantages, one of the main stresses he faced was where to go to get a pint of milk when you run out for that last cuppa at 11pm? When you’re used to being able to pop round to your Sainsbury’s Local, the challenge for a pint of milk is more a kin to a treasure hunt in a rural village.
So if that’s a problem for an upwardly mobile person, imagine the predicament older people face with the same issue, in fact it seems it can be a real struggle to do the basic things in life that us townies take for granted . Indeed, it would appear many older people feel stranded in their rural location. According to Michelle Mitchell from AgeUK, “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,” she said.
Rural Store Closures
With village post offices, shops and pubs closing in ever greater numbers she adds “”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”.
Victoria Harris from the Princes Countryside Fund also commented on the report saying “”These closures tend to hit groups such as the elderly particularly hard and combined with the decline of local transport it is a major issue.”
Many people living in rural locations often feel cut off from society in general. The rise in the second home scenario results in many village homes actually being unoccupied for long periods of time as their owners may work in a city most of the time and only visit their rural home periodically. This can have a detrimental effect on the community spirit, and certainly results in a lack of contact for elderly people that may have no choice but stay in their home all day.
Personal Alarms and Key Safes
At Telecare24, we often receive calls from older people who live in rural locations wanting to get a personal alarm to make them feel a little more secure. However, many don’t have any relatives that live nearby and sadly say they don’t even know who their neighbours are. And if they do, they don’t wish to bother them.
Many personal alarm providers such as Age UK require people to have a minimum of two key holders in order to register for the service. However, in our view, the situations mentioned earlier mean that that is impossible for many and they are sadly turned away by many careline providers.
For that reason, Telecare24 takes a more holistic view with regard taking on clients for our careline service. If a prospective client doesn’t have any trusted individuals to leave a key with, then we are more than happy to register them for our careline alarm service. All we ask is that they get a key safe installed.
Having a key safe installed is a great idea as it allows our 24/7 operators to provide the emergency services with immediate access to someone’s home, enabling them to provide the support required in the quickest time possible.
There are many key safes available; we currently stock two of the best. Both provide total security and enable a vulnerable individual with no immediate relatives nearby to get a personal alarm installed. We would recommend that even if you have a personal alarm already, getting a key safe installed will give you an additional layer of security.
So the next time you run out of milk late in the evening, spare a thought for the rising number of elderly people in a rural village who, faced with the same predicament, have nowhere to grab that pint of milk.