Have a Parent in a Rural Area? Beware of These 3 Senior Safety Risks

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There are a variety of factors that influence senior safety.

From your loved one’s dietary choices to his or her sleep patterns, a number of variables will affect Mom or Dad’s mindset, way of thinking, and quality of life.

A big factor for your parent’s safety?

Don’t underestimate the importance of where your loved one lives.

For example, take a few moments to think about how the location where you reside—whether it be a rural, urban, or suburban environment—affects your daily life.

Although younger people may experience an improved quality of life by escaping the big cities and moving out to the countryside, this is often not the case for senior citizens.

Living in a rural environment drastically affects a senior’s safety and quality of life–and it’s often not in a positive sense.

In this post, we’ll dive into three reasons why rural living can increase senior safety risks and how making the move to a senior living community can make a world of difference.

Senior Safety Concern #1: Decreased Access to Medical Support

To put it simply, rural areas are less equipped to deal with large and small medical emergencies.

As one New York Times article puts it, “medical care is accessible in some places, absent in others, and cellphone service can be unreliable.”

With approximately 25% of Americans older than age 65 living in small towns or other rural areas, this dynamic presents our country with a worrisome dilemma.

However, the downside to rural living for seniors doesn’t simply stop at medical safety concerns.

In addition to a lack of access to medical facilities and personnel, there’s generally less access to resources needed for daily life…

Senior Safety Concern #2: Less Access to Caregivers

As seniors age, tasks that used to come easy become more challenging.

In fact, senior safety risks can come from relatively simple tasks. For instance…

If the closest grocery store entails driving for a half hour or more or the nearest technician or plumber is based several towns away, getting things done or fixed isn’t going to be easy. Rather than asking for help, your loved one may undertake tasks alone…and risk a fall or accident.

You may think that hiring a caregiver to assist your loved one at home is the ideal solution to this problem.

However, a 2017 study by Population Health Management explains that with the “migration of younger individuals to cities for career and social opportunities,” there’s now a “smaller pool of potential caregivers” in these more rural areas.

Even if you do find a caregiver for your loved one, when it comes to social engagement, the solution pales in comparison to living in a community of other senior individuals.

Which brings us to our next point…

Senior Safety Concern #3: Higher Cases of Senior Isolation and Loneliness

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In the Population Health Management study, researchers found that, in addition to the food insecurity, mobility challenges and chronic health conditions that come along with rural living, the resulting social isolation is also a challenge.

Unfortunately, isolation and loneliness in seniors affects more than their psyche.

As we shared in our post 4 Facts about Senior Isolation That Will Surprise You, seniors who experience loneliness are more likely to develop dementia and other conditions, as well as engage in unhealthy behaviors such as a poor diet and smoking.

Fortunately, senior living communities can address all three of these safety concerns and serve as an ideal solution for many seniors in rural areas.

How a Senior Living Community Can Make a Difference

As the Population Health Management study puts it, “Today, healthy aging is not just about living longer but about living better.”

Even if your loved one tells you he or she is fine staying put in a rural environment, your parent may not realize how much his or her quality of life will improve by moving to a senior living community.

These communities not only provide easy access to resources and assistance in daily tasks, but there are also numerous opportunities for daily social interaction.

Making the move sooner rather than later is your better option as waiting until an accident has happened isn’t an ideal strategy.

At The Ashford, we offer several assisted living communities for your loved one, including a new property opening in the quaint town of Hilliard, Ohio—The Ashford at Sturbridge.

Schedule a tour today to see how one of our communities can improve your parent’s safety, security, and overall well-being!