Older Australians living in rural areas have long faced significant challenges in maintaining health. Their circumstances are shaped by the occupations, lifestyles, environments and remoteness which characterise the diversity of rural communities. Many rural regions face threats to future sustainability and greater proportions of the aged reside in these areas.
The emerging changes in Australia's climate over the past decade may be considered indicative of future trends, and herald amplification of these familiar challenges for rural communities. Such climate changes are likely to exacerbate existing health risks and compromise community infrastructure in some instances.
This paper discusses climate change-related health risks facing older people in rural areas, with an emphasis on the impact of heat, drought and drying on rural and remote regions. Adaptive health sector responses are identified to promote mitigation of this substantial emerging need as individuals and their communities experience the projected impact of climate change.