In a bold move to combat hunger, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding nutrition assistance to seniors living in poverty by distributing $37 million of additional support to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). The CSFP supplies supplemental food and nutritional information to low income people over the age of 60. While CSFP food packages don’t provide a complete diet, they do offer nutritious foods that older adults have difficulty accessing. As a result, this additional support should make a significant impact for the millions of seniors battling food insecurity.
According to 2018 data released in a 2020 report, more than 7% of seniors, some 5.3 million individuals, were food insecure in 2018. Seniors struggle to feed themselves for many different reason. For example, competing priorities, like having to choose between medication and food, combined with functional limitations, contribute to senior’s financial struggles. Many seniors also sacrifice a healthy diet because of limited spending resources. Government programs such as the CSFP offer hope in the fight against food insecurity.
The increased assistance now available through the USDA program will help to reduce food insecurity common with seniors by improving access to a nutrient-rich diet and nutritional resources. “By expanding the reach of CSFP and providing additional support to the states and tribes that administer the program, USDA is helping ensure that no senior has to worry where their next meal will come from,” says Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary.
Impact of Poverty on Senior’s Nutrition
Maintaining good health and consuming a nutritious diet is sometimes a strain on older adults under ideal conditions. Add poverty into the equation and this tasks becomes even harder. Statistics show that nearly one in six Americans over the age of 60 live in poverty and face challenges acquiring healthy foods. This problem is especially important considering those living in poverty are more likely to develop serious illnesses related to their overall health. “Seniors living with limited income may not have the means to buy enough food or food with enough nutrients,” says Rachel Hawkins, a registered dietician. “Elderly people with inadequate nutrition can suffer from low energy, weakened immune systems, and other health problems.” Some of the roadblocks for these individuals may include:
- Transportation Assistance Seniors do not always live near grocery stores that offers nutritious food choices. These people need a safe way to get their groceries and get home again.
- Living on fixed incomes These individuals are vulnerable to unexpected financial expenses. Unplanned events, like medical bills and home repairs, often force seniors to spend their food money on these additional expenses.
- Social Isolation For those living alone, preparing food can pose functional challenges. In the same vein, rural residents often face limited retail food access and community resources, which creates additional challenges.
Proper Nutrition Plays An Important Role In Aging
Individuals with limited access to food and community resources are more likely to experience poor eating habits. Moreover, improper nutrition combined with natural changes that come with age contributes negatively to senior health. Research shows that older adults who consume fewer calories and nutrients are more likely to develop serious health problems. For instance, these complications could include a weakened immune system, decreased bone mass, higher hospitalization risks, and the likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes. In addition, seniors need to maintain a healthy diet to fight off the negative effects of aging.
Ways To Maintain A Healthy Diet
There are ways for seniors to focus on eating well. Here are a few tips that could help:
- Firstly, keep healthy snacks available like fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
- Secondly, avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates. Not only can they contribute to unhealthy weight gain, but they also leave you feeling full. This may lead to unintentionally skipped meals.
- You should also include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats in your diet.
- Planning your meals in advance also ensures you account for each meal. Meal planning is also a great way to save money.
- Lastly, dining with friends and family positively encourages healthy eating habits, increases social activity, and reduces isolation.
Millions of older adults struggle from the negative effects of living in poverty. Choosing between purchasing medicine and a healthy meal should not be added to the list of struggles. However, with government assistance programs like the CSFP and SNAP, and volunteer efforts like Meals and Wheels, these individuals have a better chance to successfully transition into older age.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and more independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.