Taking heart from country life
MAYBE it’s the fresh air or perhaps it’s the green pastures that make older Australians living in rural areas happier than their city counterparts.
Regardless of the reason, results from a new study show that seniors living in the country generally rated their quality of life very highly.
The pilot study, to be presented at a national gerontology conference in Canberra next week, found that older people in rural Australia have stronger links to their community.
Living in rural areas may be physically isolating, but older Australians in the bush have better access to neighbourly care than their city cousins.
“Our research has found that older people in rural areas may be less likely to have contact with their family as many younger people migrate to cities for education or work,” La TrobeUniversity professor of rural aged care research Jeni Warburton said in a statement.
“However, although they have little regular family contact, they are often part of a strong community network and feel involved in their local communities.
“This means that they may have access to informal care systems that those in cities are less likely to have.”
Audrey Mallaby, from Lismore, agrees.
Although Ms Mallaby has family in the area, she has lived in big cities before and said people were more connected to their region’s ‘heart’ in the country than those in the city.
“I like the idea that Lismore has a heart,” she said.
“Where is the heart of a big city? Whereas with a country town it’s got a heartbeat and everyone can feel it.”
Ms Mallaby is involved in her local senior citizens group and the Country Women’s Association.
“We’re in an age of communication where we need to communicate with each other,” she said.
“We do communicate.
“We do stop and talk to each other in the small towns.
“That doesn’t happen in a big city.
“I’ve got an identity in a smaller town; in a city it’s lost.
“That’s important when you’re older.”
Aged care in rural areasis a key topic at the 42nd National Australian Association of Gerontology conference being held over three days in Canberra from next Wednesday.