Country Elders Have it Hard

California policy makers fight to make rural settings healthier for elders

(RxWiki News) Rural areas are often seen as peaceful because there are so many miles in between everything. This can be nice, but this may not be the best setting for elders who live out there.

About one fifth of California’s elder population lives in the countryside, and a recent study finds half of those elders are most likely to be overweight or obese, physically inactive and food insecure.

With so much distance between everything, it can be difficult for elders to get daily essentials, like food and health care.

"It’s time to make a change in rural areas, so that elders can stay healthy."

Steven P. Wallace, center’s associate director and co-author of the policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and team , found that 61.3 percent of the rural elder population are overweight or obese, one in five elders do not get enough - or any - exercise, and one in five adults are not getting enough food.

Policy makers are concerned for the older population because all three findings are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and repeated falls.

Wallace and team suggest policy makers fight for a more senior-friendly environment for the rural areas. They offer suggestions like improving sidewalks, lighting and benches.

They also believe that the Internet can provide accessible healthcare with in-home monitoring, patient self-management and online ordering of prescriptions.

Wallace and the policy making team offer many recommendations, but implementing those changes will take time and effort.

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Review Date: 
June 16, 2011