Starving seniors? Is that too harsh a word?
Let’s ratchet it down: hungry.
Or, maybe: food insecure. Yeah, that’s better. It sounds better anyway.
Call it what you want, the event is the same. It’s your grandmother or grandfather (or me…I’m certainly a grandmother) caught in a situation where there’s simply not enough food in the house.
Seniors living on Social Security are finding themselves routinely choose between food and medicine, food and transportation. When they need new clothes, seniors regularly shop at the boutique of the closet.
The issues with seniors and food insecurity are serious because when seniors no longer have the money to buy the food they need for proper nutrition or why they can no longer buy the medicines they need, they become ill and finally end up being cared for by their children or they end up in a nursing home.
I know many stories about:
The older woman in Woodstock living on mashed potatoes.
The older woman in Bearsville who ended up in a nursing home when she was cut off from her pantry take out food and didn’t have the resources or physical ability to get to a grocery store.
The older man who doesn’t have enough money for food and is slowly starving to death.
There is food available for all these people
if they can get to a pantry
if they can connect with a pantry offering take out food
if they can sign up for SNAP (food stamps).
I recently spoke with a retired friend. “Richard, do you get SNAP?”
“Why Richard? SNAP is usually easy to get. All you have to do is apply.”
“Well, I’m getting by without it. Let someone else, needier than me, get the money.”
“Richard, think about getting SNAP. This is something you paid for with your taxes. Why leave money on the table?”
I haven’t convinced him yet. However, we’re not through negotiating. As seniors, we’re in a situation where every little bit helps.
The barriers to SNAP for seniors are great. Seniors resist going to a pantry, soup kitchen, getting SNAP until they simply can’t resist any longer. I know the feeling. We grew up as children and went into adulthood feeling that if we worked hard and paid our taxes, we would end up okay. We worked all our lives believing this. And now, there simply isn’t enough.
With this event comes feelings of inadequacy and self blame. “I must have done something wrong. Here I am living hand-to-mouth. I don’t even have enough money for food. What did I do wrong?”
I don’t like a whole generation of people blaming themselves. I feel we’re not totally to blame. The rules have changed. Because we’re retired, we’re not in the rules making game anymore. Retirees are somewhat disempowered. Whatever happened to the Grey Panthers?
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