‘An In-Depth Investigation into the Lived Experience of Older People Living Within a Rural Community in Scotland Today’
This research aims to explore how older people are coping with the trials and eras of living in rural Scottish communities, as well as managing with the growing concern surrounding social exclusion within today’s society. Thus, old age exclusion remains a fundamental challenge for ageing societies, and consequently it has also been claimed that “ageing has become a powerful factor shaping rural areas” and is also having “profound and wide-ranging effects… on the social fabric of rural areas…” (Lowe and Speakman, 2006, p.9). Social exclusion of older people is a complex process that involves not just the lack of resources, rights, goods and services as people age, but also the increased inability to participate in the normal relationships and activities that are available to the majority of people throughout the multiple domains of society today. It is this that affects both the quality of life of older individuals and the equity and cohesion of our ageing society as a whole (Levitas et al., 2007). As ‘social exclusion’ refers to the separation of individuals and groups from mainstream society (Commins 2004; Moffat & Glasgow 2009) this subject area is very relevant to the current rise in today’s ageing population. It is for this reason that this project will aim to focus on the participants’ views on what it means to be an older citizen in a rural community, their lived experiences, and feelings about the added pressures surrounding the rise in age associated social exclusion. This will be an exploratory and descriptive study, which will take into the account the use semi-structured interviews and local data collection. A constructivist, phenomenological standpoint provides an intricate account of participants’ real world narratives of their time and lived experiences about life in a small, and possibly quite socially isolating rural Scottish community. The findings indicate that within today’s society, being an elderly member of a rural area in Scotland does not mean that one is predetermined to a more limiting and socially isolating life. In fact, the main lead in this study revealed that older populations in rural areas could be rising. Increases in aiding technology, better health care and easier forms of social media mean that many elderly citizens find rural life more beneficial and enjoyable. Thus, through viewing this subject area from the rural perspective this study has attempted to provide an alternative outlook on a topic that, up until now, has been overlooked by society.