By Aimee Nemeth
Experiencing poverty and food insecurity as an older adult comes with significantly more complications than other age groups. Not only does older age come with more health difficulties and challenges, adding low income and food insecurity into the mix increases these issues exponentially. With a growing senior population in our community, it is important to raise awareness of the special circumstances this demographic faces as inflation increases and COVID relief runs out.
1. Senior poverty leads to more chronic illness and disability
When one is forced to choose between eating, getting proper medical care, or taking the appropriate regime of medication, seniors who are limited in means are forced to make decisions that could exacerbate previous medical conditions or create new ones. By limiting nutritious food intake, illnesses like diabetes and heart disease can grow from manageable conditions into serious life threatening complications in a very short period of time. Medication reduction means their illnesses are not being treated to their full extent and missed doctor’s appointments means complications like cancers can be overlooked.
2. Poverty leads to more poverty in seniors
Seniors on a fixed income who might be able to work a part-time job could find themselves struggling to pay bills if their medical or other essential resources become limited. When seniors are forced to limit medicine intake or cancel expensive medical appointments, their ailments grow more serious. They’re then forced to quit jobs or positions in the community that only makes their situation more dire. This leads to more rationing of food and resources, which leads to even worse outcomes in the seniors’ suffering.
3. More chronic illness means higher medical expenses for the community
Delaying important senior medical care also impacts the economics of the community as a whole. The Food Research and Action Center reports that in 2014 the indirect related costs of hunger and food insecurity in the US were estimated to be “a staggering $160 billion” dollars. Those experiencing poverty and food insecurity have more emergency room visits, frequent physician visits, and frequent hospitalizations compared to their income and food-secure cohorts. This ties up medical services within the community which can lead to further complications for groups who need emergent medical help.
How can you help?
Research by the Food Research and Action Center and numerous agencies point to positive trends in senior health and overall mental and physical fitness when they are given appropriate nutritional and medical resources. The senior aid programs with Saline Area Social Service help fill in the gaps for our senior population in Saline. Now through March 3rd, RealTruck will 100% match the first $10,000 donated to Saline Area Social Service. The money raised will support aid for those in need in our community, including over 120 seniors.
SASS provides seniors:
- Groceries for up to 15 meals a week
- Household essentials and personal items
- Prescription copays
- Grocery delivery to homebound individuals
- Holiday gifts and meals
- Emergency aid for rent, utilities, and car repairs
- Winter hats and gloves
- And more!
By donating to Saline Area Social Service, you can directly support dignity and quality of life to the seniors in our community who truly need it.
Pérez-Zepeda, Mario Ulises, et al. “Frailty and Food Insecurity in Older Adults.” Public Health Nutrition, vol. 19, no. 15, 2016, pp. 2844–2849., https://doi.org/10.1017/s1368980016000987.
Pooler, Jennifer A., et al. “Food Insecurity: A Key Social Determinant of Health for Older Adults.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, vol. 67, no. 3, 2018, pp. 421–424., https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15736.