Rural Seniors Face Environmental And Climate Disasters That Shorten Life

Rural Seniors Face Environmental And Climate Disasters That Shorten Life

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Chapter
Rural & Frontier Seniors
Almost all rural seniors face environmental and climate disasters that shorten life.
–Author
Introduction
T
here is no single, unanimous definition of the term “rural.” At present, federal programs use more than 9 definitions; and the share of rural population ranges from 17 to 49 percent, depending on the definition. The most used definitions are based on either the Census Bureau or the Office of Management and Budget. Even these definitions allow different places to be defined as rural. Things get really complicated when populations shift or when geographic boundaries are shifted for political reasons. When determining health care policy and services, it will be important to know which definition is used; or otherwise, choices can produce unintended consequences by making health care service planning either too narrow or to broad (e.g., narrow geographic boundaries can lead to overlapping services; excessively broad geographic boundaries could be just too large to manage well). The National Rural Health Association recommends that definitions of rural be specific to the purposes of the programs in which they are used and be referred to as programmatic designations and not as definitions. Given these changing parameters, we offer the following description of rural America based upon stated research and information from the Census Bureau.
Rural America can be better understood when we realize that approximately 17 percent of the nation’s population is scattered over 80 percent of our land mass. This percentage number equates to more than 59 million people. Of that 59 million, according to the 2011 census, 17 percent are age 65 and older. According to the Economic Research Service, the average per...


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...t many of those decisions are influenced more by poverty than choice. The seasonal migrant workers must deal with the lack of insurance, lack of quality health information, illiteracy, language barriers, and often rely on traditional medicine due in part to the lack of access and the cost of health care or the lack of transportation to get to the right type of care.
Almost all rural seniors face environmental and climate disasters that shorten life. Climate change is adding to these environmental problems. Dealing with difficult weather conditions year after year adds to the many stresses of rural life. The distance between health care service providers also adds to the problem of service integration when confronted with complex health problems. The ups and downs of economic conditions add to poverty issues and can create long periods without health care of any kind.

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