Facts About Food Insecurity Among Older Adults
Myth - Older adults will tell us when they are hungry so we can help.
FACT - Hunger among older is a problem often hiding right in front of us. Older adults who are hungry don't walk around with the word "Hungry" on their shirts. Many are too embarrassed to ask for help — or even to acknowledge that they need it.
Myth - Older adults are generally self-sufficient and don't want to be bothered.
FACT - The nutritious meal, friendly visit and safety check help older adults cope with three of the biggest threats of aging: hunger, isolation and loss of independence. Research proves that when seniors have the right support, they gain greater quality of life, need fewer hospital stays and live longer.
Myth - Social Security provides enough funds to prevent hunger.
FACT - Many people underestimate the day-to-day struggles of those who are age 65 and over, their struggles to make ends meet and have a decent quality of life. It's easy to imagine that Social Security and Medicare provide sufficient protection against a problem as basic as hunger. Yet the average Social Security benefit in 2015 is $1,328 a month — and a majority of older adults today rely on Social Security as their largest source of income. From this amount, seniors must pay for Medicare gap insurance, the lowest premium amount this year is $439 per month. That leaves only $889 a month or an average of $205 a week to cover all expenses. Could you imagine trying to simply pay for rent, utilities and groceries on an income of less than $11,000 a year? What choices would you be forced to make when you need to purchase medication or replace your winter coat?
Myth - Older adults are not going hungry in Iowa.
FACT - There are more than 1 million older adults in the U.S. and an estimated 77,000 in Iowa who go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food. Another 5 million faced the threat of hunger. In one of the world's richest nations, no older American should be going hungry. However instead, hunger rates have more than doubled for poor older adults in the country, and it is likely to get worse as the older population is the fastest growing cohort of the U.S. population.
Myth - Hunger among older adults is only a problem for poor people.
FACT - While low-income older adults suffer more, and often have to make choices between purchasing medication or food, hunger is not just an income issue. It is also a problem of access and care. Many older adults who can afford it, lack the mobility to get and prepare their own meals, or don't have other support systems to help them. Those same individuals and others live in areas that are more difficult to access.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Meals On Wheels program and volunteers on the ground, some of these individuals will get a home-delivered meal and a caring visit. But not everyone who needs help. Right now, and especially in this tough economic climate, the Meals on Wheels program lacks the resources it needs to make that happen.
Myth - The government will take care of it.
FACT - They haven't so far. Unfortunately, the reality is that the federal share of funding that goes towards addressing hunger among older adults is small relative to the need and impact to the health of Iowa's seniors. Approximately 50 percent of all health concerns affecting older Americans are directly connected to a lack of nutrients. The cost of a year's worth of nutritious home-delivered meals that could sustain the health and nutrition of our seniors is roughly equal to the cost of just one day in the hospital.
Myth - This issue doesn't affect you.
FACT - This issue DOES affect you in one way or another. You could care because as an Iowan, it is very disheartening to see another Iowan suffering when they don't have to be. Whether it is your grandparent, mother, father, brother, sister, or friend, chances are someone you care about is over the age of 60. What if your loved one lacked access to regular meals and you couldn't help them?
What happens when you grow older? Are you sure you will get the care and nutrition you need in your later years? Even the most independent among us, if fortunate to live long enough, may experience a decline in mobility or health that can strip away our independence and diminish the quality of our lives.
So, you are not as removed from the problem of senior hunger as you think.
If you care a little bit more about this than you did yesterday, we are a step closer to ending hunger among older adults.
MAKE SURE OLDER ADULTS ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
Each donation helps to deliver a nutritious meal, a friendly visit and a safety check.