How Food Insecurity Affects the Health of Senior Citizens in Rural AmericaNovember 30, 2017 | 12:09 pm |
There are many remote and rural parts of the United States where basic food access is a big question. In these communities, vulnerable senior citizens suffer the most. We often fail to realize that older adults deal with several and often worst consequences of food inaccessibility.
A lack of nutritious food makes seniors more susceptible to health issues. According to a study released jointly by Feeding America and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), “When compared to food secure seniors, food insecure seniors are 60% more likely to experience depression. Fifty-three percent are more likely to report a heart attack. Fifty-two percent are more likely to develop asthma and 4% more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure.” These are alarming numbers that reflect the state of desolation among seniors in America.
Older adults are often forced to choose between buying food or paying medical bills. Food insecurity and lower intake of nutrients at this age make them prone to more grim illnesses like low blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Thus, this vulnerable group is further burdened with medical bills and related procedures, which creates a vicious cycle. A study from the Meals on Wheels Association of America found, “those seniors at higher risk for food insecurity tend to be living at or below the poverty line.”
We all know the role of fruits and vegetables to live a healthy and nutritious life, but seniors often don’t have access to places where they can purchase fresh produce. According to Ruralhealthinfo.org, “it can be a challenge to establish a rural farmers market. This is due to large geographic distances and the small number of potential shoppers.” Again, a major concern towards the well being of the senior population.
Government programs like SNAP offer nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. The rural senior population, however, don’t always take advantage of these benefits. Lack of awareness, limited knowledge, physical disability, and immobility often prevent them away from enrolling in these programs. According to ncoa.org, 3 out of 5 seniors who qualify for SNAP do not participate. This means that 5.2 million seniors miss out on the benefits.
Hence, these silent sufferers end up leading a miserable life of hunger, illness, and depression.
How can we help these vulnerable seniors?
The most important thing we can do is to make more people aware of the gruesome situation facing our senior citizens.
Food Drives are a great way to fight hunger and raise awareness about the issue in your community. If you’re not sure where to begin, no problem! Our events team will help you plan the event from start to finish.
Let’s take a pledge that we will do our share to help our most vulnerable citizens.
Start planning your food drive today.