Living in “Rural America” is gratifying. The sounds of clattering suburbia are replaced by serene quietness. Days and nights are peaceful, absent of commotion and traffic. The view of the moon and stars isn’t obstructed by city smog. People and nature are at peace with the environment. I’ve lived in a rural setting my entire life and LOVE it! Whippoorwills, white-tailed deer, locust, blueberry fields, and cranberry bogs are daily sights and sounds of my “Rural America”. But, with peacefulness comes seclusion. I currently live 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store, 40 minutes from my physician, 40 minutes from the nearest shopping mall, and 25 minutes from the “local” Chinese restaurant. For some this is mindboggling, but for me it’s life. I never realized the inconveniences of living rurally until my grandmother fell ill and needed healthcare support. Those inconveniences were immediately magnified. I’ve stressed the importance of utilizing resources available to caregivers and care-recipients. However, most of those resources are not available to individuals receiving homecare in a rural setting.
1.) Transportation Services
Small towns in “Rural America” compared to urban and suburban communities lack funds to provide necessary transportation services to caregivers and care-recipients. Residents living in exurban communities are limited in their independence and abilities to complete daily errands.
2.) Adult Daycare Centers
Limited monetary resources and poor infrastructure both contribute to unavailable homecare resources. We can’t compete with the wealth of populated cities. Therefore, healthcare relief facilities are absent in rural communities. And, without transportation services, caregivers and care-recipients can’t be transported to neighboring facilities.
3.) Home Healthcare Agencies
Remote locations hinder the process of hiring dependable home healthcare agencies. Nurses and aides are reluctant to travel to these locations because of travel time and distance.
4.) Respite Care
We realize the importance of respite care during caregiving, but a short-term break is not always readily available, especially in a rural setting. The inability to find home healthcare agencies willing to travel to your location narrows your options when trying to obtain respite care. Without agencies, your main source of relief care is dependable family and friends. But, most families live at great distances from the caregiver and care-recipient. Friends and neighbors work or are raising families. Daily/weekly respite care may not be an option.
If living in “Rural America” is inconvenient for the aging population, why don’t they relocate to an area better equipped for their needs? The elderly in rural communities have limited incomes and live at or near poverty level. Most live alone and have health concerns. How can they relocate? Why should they be disadvantaged by their living location?
I was an informal caregiver for 11 years in a rural setting. Getting good, quality care for your loved-one is nearly impossible. Caregivers are required to perform many heath-related procedures beyond their training because healthcare agencies are not willing to travel 40 miles. How do you transport a bed-bound patient to a doctor’s office 35 miles away with no medical transportation services? How can you provide the proper care to a loved-one when skilled nurses are unwilling to travel to your location? Caregiving is difficult, but lack of proper resources makes it more stressful and overwhelming. Respite care? Yeah right! That’s a luxury provided by a family member every couple months.
Caregivers and care-recipients living in rural communities deserve more resources. Location shouldn’t hinder the quality of care received by a loved-one. Do you live in “Rural America”? How can homecare resources be improved? Leave a comment! Thank you!