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Seniors and Hunger

seniors and hunger

One in ten seniors in America is at risk for hunger. And the senior hunger problem is only getting worse – the number of adults over age 50 who are at risk has increased 79% since 2001. Hunger at any age is a serious concern, but for seniors, a lack of nutritious food can have considerable impacts on health and independence.

Research conducted at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research shows that seniors who consume higher levels of dietary protein are less likely to suffer hip fractures than seniors whose dietary intake is less. Other studies have shown that seniors at risk for being hungry are less likely to be in excellent or very good health, and more likely to be diabetic, suffer from depression, or have at least one activity of daily living limitation – such as bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom.

As you might expect, poverty is one big reason why seniors go hungry. A report earlier this year by UMass Boston and Wider Opportunities for Women showed that seniors in Massachusetts face the largest gap in the country between income and cost of living. The median income of retired Massachusetts seniors is just under $17,000, but basic living expenses are estimated at about $27,000 per year – a $10,000 shortfall. Healthy, lean proteins like chicken and fish are expensive for a senior living on a fixed income.

But money is only part of the problem. As we age, tasks like grocery shopping and cooking meals can become increasingly difficult. This can create a dangerous downward spiral of poorer health and decreased independence.

At Hebrew SeniorLife, we’re focused on ways to keep seniors of all incomes healthy and independent. Our supportive housing communities in Brookline, Randolph, and Revere offer affordable meal plans so low-income residents can access a hot, nutritious meal right in their own building. And these communal meals provide a social experience that helps prevent isolation and loneliness. Each year, we serve nearly 200,000 meals to the residents of these three communities.

For our most frail residents, having access to a hot prepared meal might mean the difference between living independently and moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility. And for seniors of all abilities, proper nutrition is a key part of staying active and healthy.

Learn more and find out how you can help.

Terri Febo Robinson's picture

About the Blogger

Development Communications Specialist and Writer

Terri Febo Robinson is Development Communications Specialist and Writer at Hebrew SeniorLife, where she focuses on communications that help donors understand how their philanthropy has the power to redefine aging. Terri has more than ten years’ experience with communications, marketing, media relations, writing, digital communications, and direct response fundraising in agency and nonprofit settings. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Boston University.


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While hunger is a problem there is also the fact that many have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) which makes it difficult for them to find tasty food that sets right with their system. An Article about how to season foods and make them tasty without them experiencing GERD problems is not easy. Many take Prilosec but sometimes even that does not work for them. The problem is finding a balance in spices that will make their food tasty to them, and not increase their salt intake a great deal while doing so. They want the flavor, they don't want the bland food that something like 'Meals on Wheels' may offer. If someone would approach seasoning food for the elder who have GERD as a topic it may increase their dietary intake of some foods. In our household I cook for my two elderly parents who are in their 80s, when they were in their 70's their doctor told them to eat less. I found that their zeal for life seemed to deteriorate when they ate less and I encourage them to more along the lines of the way they used too.
This is wonderful advice. Thank you for taking the time to write it!
My husband and I eat home a lot - we are in our 70's and I have gerd. I use Mrs. Dash to flavor my foods and sometimes the Adobo spice to perk it up. We are careful with our diets and know to stop eating when full. Living on fixed income we use what we buy and try not to waste.
Thank you for sharing, Sheila!
Just accidentally came across this blog and as a senior, it is awesome!
Thank you, Ada! We're currently adding one new blog per week on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Please check back for new content or browse through our older content using the sidebar on the right as a guide.

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