Most people are not aware just how many hungry people are out there. In addition to not knowing the facts, most of them connect hunger with children that are located in a faraway corner of the world in a war-torn country. But what they don’t know is that there are many food-starved individuals right around the corner. There are hundreds of thousands of hungry children in the United States and an equal number of older adults. Yes, there are many seniors in need of food in America, without many people knowing this fact. Food insecurity is one of the most significant issues for the elderly.
What Is Food Insecurity?
Older adults who don’t have regular access to fresh food, and food healthy enough for them to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, face food insecurity. During 2013 there were 14.3% of all households that have an older adult living with them that faced food insecurity during the span of that year.
During 2014 this number dropped to 9% of all seniors, which is good. But this still translates to 5.7 million individuals. This number further fell in the following year. In 2015 it stood at 8%. While in recent years, the trend has been positive, and there were less food insecure seniors, this could change in the future. Unfortunately, till the time all baby boomers reach the age of 60, the number of elderly people who face food insecurity will rise by 50%. If you continue reading our article, you will find out why this information is shocking.
How Does Food Insecurity Impact Seniors?
The ways in which food insecurity affects older adults are numerous. Compared to seniors who don’t experience food insecurity, those that do have a 40% higher chance of succumbing to heart failure caused by poor diet. What’s even worse, they have a 53% higher chance of having a heart attack. Bad news doesn’t stop there, as more than 60% of the elderly that face food insecurity develop depression. Over 50% of them will face asthma during their lives. Looking at all of this, it is not hard to conclude that the elderly who face food insecurity report various medical issues to their doctor twice as often as those who don’t have this issue. Having uninterrupted access to food during the golden years is essential for the well-being of seniors.
Compared to other parts of the population, seniors will have more significant consequences than any age group when faced with food insecurity. Another issue that can lead to food insecurity is transportation. There are many elderly adults who have money for food and groceries, but they just don’t have the means of transport to go and buy them. Others have health issues that don’t allow them to prepare the food they buy, which often leads to food becoming spoiled.
While there is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), seniors often are not aware that it exists, and they are considered an age group that is less likely to participate.
How to Stop Senior Hunger
Luckily there are ways to help seniors that lack food. It can be done through lifestyle changes, by creating volunteer groups, and by participating in the activities of local community centers that focus on elderly well-being. All of these are focused on getting healthy and fresh foods to seniors that need it. The best ways in which you can make an immediate impact include:
- Drive local seniors to shops and food stores
- Become a part of Meals on Wheels
- Start a cooking class close to the place you live for local seniors
- Become a member of food drive teams, which provide and deliver food for older adults in need
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