Life is much more easier these days. A hundred years ago people had lesser access to medicine. In the Old West (U.S.), there were few big cities, so people lived much farther apart. If a person became sick, a family would have to carry the person a long way to find a doctor. Sometimes, the distance was much too far for the person who was sick.
A great more people died of diseases such as cholera, measles and typhoid. There were also lot fewer healthcare professionals. They didn't have much more training than "word of mouth". A barber or a priest couldn't offer much more than comfort to a sick person. Few people lived to old age, and young people died a way too soon.
access (n.) – a way or means to get to something
barber (n.) – a professional who shaves faces, cuts hair (and in the old days pulled teeth and gave first aid.)
"Old West" refers to the early settlers in the western U.S.
word of mouth – information passed from one individual to another