Food insecurity remains a serious problem for many older adults. The number of seniors facing the threat of hunger is steadily growing in the United States. Food insecurity occurs when people lack access to food or go hungry due to poverty or other challenges. Social issues such as hunger, inadequate housing, social isolation and poverty are linked to poor health, especially as we age. When healthcare systems and community organizations coordinate with each other, they are better able to help us address these concerns individually and as a society.
In a country as wealthy as the United States, it may come as a surprise that one in 12 seniors do not have required food due to inadequate money or other financial resources. They are what is considered food insecure. It is an expansive issue that needs an understanding of exactly what constitutes a senior being "hungry." The issues that stem from seniors who are hungry can be helped. Although Americans are remaining in the workforce longer, their earnings tend to decline as they get older. Diminished incomes, or losing a job altogether, combined with rising housing costs and health care bills has left millions of seniors at or below the poverty line.
Recently, a research team from the Institute for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, organized a study to learn more about food insecurity and older adults. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The researchers examined information from a health survey that was given to more than 50,000 older adults between 2012 and 2015. The survey was part of a free annual wellness visit for Medicare members in Kaiser Permanente Colorado. It included questions about food security. More than 6% said that they did not always have enough money to buy the food they needed.
The study revealed that:
- Food insecurity was least common (4.8%) in people who are 85 years old and above.
- More than 25% of people with both Medicaid (government insurance for people living below the Federal poverty line) and Medicare (government insurance for older adults) reported having food insecurity. Food insecurity was least common (4.8%) in people 85 years old or older.
- Food insecurity was most common (6.2%) among women, people without a spouse or partner; those who use tobacco or alcohol; people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or diagnosed depression; and people who had been hospitalized, visited an emergency department, or had lived in a nursing home in the year before the survey.
- Food insecurity was reported by 10% or more of people who had fair or poor general health or quality of life; oral or dental problems; trouble with bathing, eating, dressing, and performing other activities of daily living; a poor diet - they ate no fruits or vegetables, or they ate fewer than two meals a day; and no one to call for help.
Ways to identify food insecurity in older adults need to be combined with methods to connect older adults with community-based food resources. The main mission of the American Geriatrics Society is to eliminate senior hunger and provide more aid in the area of their basic needs.
About The Author:
Serene Hitchcock is a professional freelance writer, blogger and social media strategist from San Diego, California. She has been writing for several years in many forms and facets and is interested in arts, health, self-improvement, current events and the world we live in.