Elder Hunger Awareness Month Proclamation signed by Governor Mary Fallin for June 2015.
Oklahoma ranks #8, in the nation, for senior hunger! 1/3 of Seniors in Oklahoma City are hungry on a daily basis, yet hunger in Oklahoma is higher in many rural areas.
- Elderly people struggling with hunger may be ashamed for others to know.
- Social Security does not keep a person from going hungry
- Hunger affects health as health is heavily determined by what we eat.
- Many factors, not just poverty, contribute to hunger.
- The grief of the widowed may be compounded by lack of money.
NEARLY FOUR MILLION SENIORS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE MALNOURISHED!
ELDERLY PEOPLE STRUGGLING WITH HUNGER MAY BE ASHAMED FOR OTHERS TO KNOW.
The majority of those seniors who face the threat of hunger, are white (63%), have incomes above the poverty line and are widowed, with disabled widows at a higher risk. Among the most pronounced increases, for food insecurity, are the retired, those who do not live in a metro area, women, and households with no grandchildren present.
SOCIAL SECURITY DOES NOT KEEP A PERSON FROM GOING HUNGRY
One in three Oklahomans rely on Social Security for their total income. However, there is no minimum Social Security benefit amount. At the death of a spouse, while one Social Security benefit goes away rent and utilities, insurance, taxes, maintenance/repair continue and become more expensive, as time goes on. If there was a first or second mortgage on the home, there may not be much equity in the home so by selling it she might go in the hole with fees and closing costs. Many widows spend years paying off the expensive funeral for their late spouse.
While more than 50% of households receiving food through food banks are also receiving food stamps, a Senior receiving the average Social Security benefit does not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly called food stamps. One widow who did receive SNAP, lost her $22 monthly benefit when the Social Security cost-of-living increased this year, putting her over the allowed income.
HUNGER AFFECTS HEALTH AS HEALTH IS HEAVILY DETERMINED BY WHAT WE EAT.
79% of households report that as they are unable to stretch their dollar far enough to buy enough food to sustain their health they purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food. Processed foods (packaged) may seem cheaper, but can adversely affect one’s health.
MANY FACTORS, NOT JUST POVERTY, CONTRIBUTE TO HUNGER. A large number of Oklahoma seniors skip meals in order to pay for dental care when they simply can’t endure the pain that makes it extremely uncomfortable to eat. The need for hearing aids or for eyeglasses that get broken or are no longer strong enough can reduce the small amount they normally use for food as Medicare, in the state of Oklahoma, does NOT cover glasses or hearing aids. It is an ongoing battle for many elderly to just find the money for the medication that needs to be taken with food, to assure its effectiveness. With very little left to buy food for the month some resort to:
(a) payday loans with Annual Percent Rates of 391% or higher. Oklahoma is No. 1 in Payday Loan Usage – NPR State Impact
(b) credit card companies that may add a late fee of $35 and the APR may be increased to the variable penalty of 29.99% when the minimum payment is not received by the due date!
Either one puts them further in debt.
THE GRIEF OF THE WIDOWED MAY BE COMPOUNDED BY LACK OF MONEY.
There are more than 100,000 widows in Oklahoma. 40% of women in Oklahoma, over the age of 65, are widowed and nearly 70% of widows in Oklahoma live alone.
The cost of the loved ones funeral can be devastating for the widowed when there is no life insurance or other income to help with the expense. Many have depleted their savings, due to the low interest rates they were receiving, which left them no choice but to use the principal. Many receive no company pension.
A lack of money can play a big part in a widow becoming isolated. Embarrassed and ashamed by their situation, they are afraid if they get close to someone they will learn the truth. There isn’t money to buy a little extra food to take to a potluck. Many times there is no choice but to decline offers to socialize. It can be a hardship to buy gas for the car to get to church once a week. Even a small gift for a grandchild’s birthday may be financially outside the realm of possibilities. Feeling ashamed and believing they are the only ones in their predicament further isolates them as they tell no one.
THE THREE HARDEST WORDS TO SAY ARE “Please help me“.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo F. Buscaglia
NO PERSON IN AMERICA SHOULD GO HUNGRY!
Enough healthy food for adequate nutrition is important, to reduce the rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases and the accompanying skyrocketing healthcare costs.
The health of low-income elderly persons, 60 years of age and older, can be improved by supplementing their diets with nutritious foods.
Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending Senior hunger. Each of us can all do something! Working together, we can solve hunger in Oklahoma.
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in. ” ~ Mother Teresa ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
*In Oklahoma, Feeding America food banks serve the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City) and Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma (Tulsa, OK )
WILL YOU SPEAK UP FOR THE WIDOWED?
Facebook: A Heart for the Widowed
Senior/Elder Hunger ~ The Hidden Epidemic in America.