Study Shows That Rate of Senior Food Insecurity on the Rise

While the U.S. economy adds jobs and the financial markets steadily improve, a growing number of seniors are having trouble keeping food on the table. In 2013, the most recent data available, 9.6 million Americans over the age of 60 — or one of every six older men and women — could not reliably buy or access food at least part of the year, according to an analysis from researchers at the University of Kentucky and the University of Illinois. Across the country, the rate of food insecurity — the academic term for a disruption in the mundane yet vital task of maintaining a basic, nutritious diet — among seniors has more than doubled since 2001, according to the National Council on Aging. And it is projected to climb even further as the Baby Boom generation gets older. The precise conditions fueling the increase in senior hunger are unclear: the poverty rate for seniors, in fact, fell from 2001 to 2005, though it has risen every year since, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And, all the while, the rate of food insecurity among older Americans has ticked upward. But researchers who study the trend say the causes are complicated and overlap. There are the logistical challenges of getting to a grocery store when many seniors can no longer drive, either because of physical disability or because they cannot afford a car. Long rides on public transportation are difficult to endure for seniors suffering from illness, disability, and dementia. And those maladies alone can rob seniors of the ability to feed themselves. Out-of-pocket medical expenses, which increase steadily as people age, often use up large portions of monthly income for seniors, monies that otherwise might be used on groceries.

The descent into privation for seniors accustomed to middle-class life is usually swift and unforgiving, say the advocates who aid them, and it is often also triggered by failing health, the inability to work, or the death of a spouse.

Source/more: Kaiser Health News

David Wingate is an elder law attorney who practices in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. David Wingate’s practice includes wills, trusts, power of attorneys, livening wills, Medicaid and asset protection.

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