Wednesday, 29 May 2019

On rural depopulation - If old people are all that's left, become an old people's home?

From El Pais about Pescueza, a Spanish village in the Extremadura:
The premise behind the project is to provide support for elderly people, without requiring them to give up their homes. The program has been running since 2011, and is funded by the Friends of Pescueza Association, the Democratic Pensions Union (UDP) and the regional government of Extremadura, according to the regional newspaper Hoy.

“There are seniors here. We have to take advantage of that,” explains Vicente. “When a grandparent closes the door to their home to go to a nursing home, all of their memories are left behind. We created a village care center, where their very own houses and streets are adapted for their needs.”
A creative approach to the problem of having two-thirds of your (declining) population over the age of 60. On a more general point, some of the ideas - having a local focus to care at home, providing technology support to people and adapting the environment not just the home - are worth thinking about wherever we're looking to improve care and support for the elderly and disabled in a community (without the fall back of putting them in a home).

Like rural areas everywhere across Europe, Spain's remoter places have depopulated leaving behind the old and the poor:
Aguilar de Anguita, a small community in Guadalajara province, around 140 kilometers northeast of Madrid. The village is just six kilometers from the main Madrid-Barcelona highway, but Ángel Álvarez Gago, his wife, and their two daughters, who run Casa Juan, a roadside restaurant, are among the last remaining inhabitants. The streets are clean and its houses well maintained, but the place is silent and empty. Take the road out of the village at night in the direction of Valencia, and for the next 50 kilometers until Molina de Aragón, the villages are all empty; the only light comes from street lamps.
Cities have devoured rural communities as younger generations seek out a better life (or at least a richer life) leaving behind this emptiness. For those of us passing through it all seems strange- many of the villages have all the old world charm we associate with rural life but, in the end, these places are too remote, too lacking in amenities and too full of old people. Maybe making them into old folks' homes isn't such a bad idea after all?


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