Later life in rural England

Older woman standing at her garden gate

Age UK has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities faced by older people living in rural communities in England. We want all levels of government to take steps to make the whole country a place where older people can thrive.

Green and pleasant land?

Living in the countryside as an older person certainly has its advantages. Yet while the ‘rural idyll’ holds true for some people, with fewer people and larger distances between towns and villages, living in rural England can present unique challenges for older people.

Age UK has launched a report presenting these challenges and showcasing the ways in which local Age UKs are overcoming them.

opens link in new window Download our report on Later life in rural England (PDF 2.99MB) 

What are the challenges?

Green busTransport

Transport is a lifeline to older people particularly in rural areas. It connects them to family, friends and the community and enables access to health, social care and other key services. But rural transport has been badly hit by funding cuts, leading to reductions in scheduled bus services. These are having a detrimental effect on older people.

First-aid box

Health and social care

In general older people living in rural areas enjoy better health than those living in urban areas, but they can face difficulties in accessing health and social care services due to distance, lack of public transport and services not working together. Rural areas are also ageing faster than urban areas, so demand for health and social care services is rapidly increasing.

FlamesFuel poverty

Fuel poverty is a huge problem across England, but it is particularly common in rural areas. The ‘chocolate box’ country cottage is hard to heat, and many rural areas don’t have mains gas, so household energy bills are on average 27 per cent higher than in urban areas.

 

LaptopBroadband access

Broadband is crucial to the social and economic development of rural communities, but coverage and speed of internet access in rural areas is much worse than it is in urban areas.

 

PiggybankPoverty and financial exclusion

Older people in rural areas experience the same financial problems as older people in towns and cities. But living in a rural area brings additional challenges, like higher living costs and having to travel further to the nearest cash point, bank or shop.

 

Man sitting on a bench Loneliness and social isolation

Like poverty and deprivation, loneliness and social isolation in rural areas can be hidden. However, both exist and older people are particularly vulnerable to them because of their low incomes, lack of local services and higher costs of living.

 

What do we want?

We know that community action can provide some helpful solutions to the challenges of rural living, but it cannot be relied upon alone to ensure the best outcomes for older people.

We think there should be a balance between government and community action, which is why we’re calling for all levels of government to:

  • ‘rural proof’ policy and services that may have an impact on rural areas and make older people a priority in this process
  • take the ‘rural premium’ and social value of services into account
  • support community participation
  • target social isolation in rural areas.

What can you do?

If you would like to order a copy of the campaign report, or you’re an older person living in a rural area and you want to share your experiences with us, contact the Campaigns team.

You can also contact us via our Twitter account @ageukcampaigns and facebook account www.facebook.com/ageuk

Find out about the services offered by your local Age UK

Call our free advice line on 0800 169 6565

Access our free information guides and factsheets covering transport, health and social care, winter, the internet and money matters.

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Age UK Advice:
0800 169 6565

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