Services for an Aging Rural Population - Rural Ontario Foresight Papers

Date: December 5, 2019

Mark Skinner, Ph.D. & Elizabeth McCrillis, Ph.D.

The Services of an Aging Rural Population Foresight Paper examines the challenge of service provision in rural communities for an aging population. Rural communities have been facing a gap in services, particularly those important to its older residents, due to the restructuring, downsizing and relocation of rural services to their more-populated urban counterparts.This service gap emphasizes the notion of ‘double jeopardy’ in rural communities, in which vulnerable older people are living in vulnerable rural areas. In this scenario, rural communities increasingly rely on voluntarism to fill in the gaps of service delivery, yet what we are commonly seeing is that the rural volunteer pool is comprised of older adults themselves. Older voluntarism poses challenges to the sustainability of rural services, as these older volunteers will eventually need these same services.

The Paper also provides examples of rural services (healthcare, housing, transportation, recreation) that may mediate tensions between aging in place and stuck in place, as these services, among others, directly relate to quality of life for seniors in rural communities. The examples provided from rural communities across Ontario (Arnprior, Lakefield and Temiskaming Shores) showcase how these rural service initiatives remain sustainable by partnering with other community organizations, such as healthcare and municipalities.

We believe that those who should be reading our Foresight Paper are federal and provincial departments responsible for seniors, municipal leaders and bureaucrats responsible for seniors and community organizations developed for and by seniors. This Paper makes the case that it is worth investing in aging in place through service provision for older adults, but also worth facilitating partnerships across various levels of government and grassroots organizations and initiatives to develop regional approaches that are based on the unique, known needs of individual rural populations.

Download the Services for an Aging Rural Population Foresight Paper:

English: Services for an Aging Rural Population | French: Services for an Aging Rural Population  

Complete Rural Ontario Foresight Papers 2019