An estimated 15% of the population in the United States lives in rural areas. There are various reasons you might want to live in a rural area. You may prefer lower living costs and a slower pace of life. Also, you might appreciate having access to large, open spaces for recreation. Furthermore, rural areas are less populated and can provide greater privacy. You may choose a rural community over urban areas so you can live closer to your family members and friends.

Nevertheless, there are some challenges to living in remote areas, particularly when it comes to healthcare. In comparison to urban communities, rural areas tend to have:

  • A higher proportion of older adults that have chronic health problems
  • Higher poverty rates
  • More people going without health insurance.
  • Higher rates of substance abuse, such as tobacco smoking and narcotics and methamphetamine abuse
  • Limited access to healthcare centers. For example, hospitals and clinics may be a long distance away.
  • Higher rates of chronic medical conditions such as hypertension and obesity
  • Increased exposure to hazardous substances, such as agricultural chemicals

Solutions to Rural Healthcare Challenges

There are some ways to deal with these issues. Several examples include:

  • ▪ Clinics can offer telehealth care to patients who live far from specialists or cannot commute to their providers’ offices.
  • ▪ Local public health departments can collaborate with their organization to promote healthy living. They can start a farmer’s market and offer wellness and exercise classes.
  • ▪ Rural schools can provide counseling sessions and mental health services to their students.
  • ▪ Local authorities are now adding bicycle lanes and footpaths to encourage individuals to bike and walk.

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