In WV, 52 out of 55 counties have a higher than average senior population. In KY, 87 out of 120 counties do. This makes concentrating on seniors and their needs especially important in our area.
In 2010, 9% of the elderly lived below the poverty line. If medical expenses are taken into account, that rate jumps to 16%. If you calculate 9% of the senior population in WV and KY, at least 78,800 seniors are living in poverty.
Food insecurity for the senior population is very worrisome because seniors have special nutritional needs. Food insecurity and hunger is more difficult for seniors to face than for the general population. Beyond their already changing needs, over 80% of seniors have at least one chronic health condition that would most likely require a special diet or medication.
There may be times when a senior has to choose between their critical prescription medications or food. In fact, 30% of households with seniors that Feeding America serves reported having to choose between food and medical care, and another 35% between food and utilities.
Many of the changes that come along with age can hinder a senior’s ability to prepare and eat meals. A study from Feeding America that concentrated on food insecurity found that food insecure seniors would sometimes have the money to buy food but would not have the resources such as transportation, health problems, and functional limitations that would prevent them from being able to prepare and purchase the food. This is why we must pay careful attention to this vulnerable population.
The problem can only worsen if we don’t keep working to fight hunger. A sponsored study from the Meals on Wheels Research Foundation found that from 2001 to 2010, the number of seniors affected by hunger has risen by 78%.