On completion of this chapter, the reader will be able to:
empathise with older people in rural Australian communities
discuss the attitudes towards healthy ageing in rural communities and their association with living well
identify the role that lay carers play in support for older people with healthcare needs
identify the role that professional health services play in the maintenance of healthy lifestyles for older people in rural communities
appreciate the advantages for older people, their carers and family members of preparing advanced care directives.
Living well, chronic and complex care, self-care, health promotion, advanced care directives
This chapter provides a positive picture of living well as an older person in a rural community. It covers self-care and formal and informal support services for older people by profiling a fictional senior Australian, Sarah Atwood, as she becomes frail and in need of extra support.
Community is a key word in rural living as it signals benefits of mateship, reciprocity and security. These are particularly valued aspects of rural living for older people and can make the difference between a contented old age and one full of ill-health, social isolation and insecurity. Active older people are the backbone of any rural community through the contribution of their time and talents to family life as informal and formal carers for partners, friends and family. They also get involved in politics, voluntary services, social networks and charities. Such activities keep people interested and involved and add substantially to feelings of self-worth and dignity, which are so necessary for mental health and wellbeing.