Did you know that a growing number of elderly adults are facing what is called food insecurity? This means that more and more seniors are not sure where their next nutritious meal is coming from. While there are many causes of food insecurity in the elderly population, many people aren’t even aware of it.
As a family caregiver, you can take steps to ensure that your elderly relative is not suffering from food insecurity.
What is Food Insecurity?
Food insecurity describes the condition of being unable to access nutritious meals regularly or being able to afford them or acquire them in the first place. Most of the research on the topic focuses on teens and children, but the elderly population is one of the fastest growing demographics for food insecurity. The number of seniors facing food insecurities will grow in the next several decades as more seniors live longer and socioeconomic conditions continue to affect different populations.
Causes of Food Insecurity in the Elderly
When an elderly person has a health problem that results in a physical limitation, it’s easy to see the problem and help. Family members, neighbors, home care services providers, clergy and community organizations can provide support for seniors that perhaps aren’t as strong and mobile as they once were. However, food insecurity may be more difficult to spot in the elderly. One of the reasons why it is prevalent is because seniors are often too proud or too shy to ask for help with food.
Another reason for their food insecurity is that many seniors live on a fixed income. As the cost of living goes up and their medical bills increase, many seniors must make the choice between paying for their home or for medicine instead of food. If you don’t have insight into your elderly relative’s finances, you may assume everything is fine when they are really struggling to make ends meet. Impairment, disabilities, lack of driving ability and overall health problems often prevent seniors from acquiring, preparing and eating nutritious meals.
How Family Caregivers Can Help Elderly Relatives
There are many ways that family caregivers like you can ensure that their aging relative is not living with food insecurity. You can do periodic checks to ensure that there is appropriate food in the cupboards and in the refrigerator. You can talk to them about whether they have enough money for their needs. You, family members or home care services assistants can make trips to the grocery store with them. In many communities there are senior meal services that you can help them sign up for. The key is recognizing the problem of food insecurity before it significantly affects the elderly relative’s health and wellness.
Food insecurity among elderly adults is a growing problem across the country. However your elderly relative will not be one of those statistics when you learn about food insecurity and how to prevent it in your own family.