According to a report called "Hunger in Older Adults: Challenges and Opportunities for the Aging Services Network", every year, more than 10 million seniors in America experience hunger. Many of these seniors have incomes that fall above the poverty line, but they may have other reasons why they are not getting enough food. Poor physical or mental health, limited mobility, and very little outside help from family or friends can contribute to hunger.
How Family and Friends Can Help
Family and friends can help make sure their senior loved one is getting enough to eat by being aware and checking in regularly. Be active in the lives of your senior mom. Schedule recurring meals so you can shop, cook, and eat nutritious meals together on a regular schedule. When you cook dinner alone at your house, make extra portions for Mom, freeze them, and drop the meals by once a week so you know she’s getting healthy meals even when you’re not there.
If Mom is starting to need more extra help than you can give, moving her to assisted living might be the right change for both of you. In an assisted living community, Mom will have the option to receive help with activities of daily life that may have become difficult for her. Assisted living communities offer a variety of nutritious meals around the clock to ensure that Mom is getting the vitamins and minerals that she needs to stay healthy.
If you live far away from the rest of your family, make it your goal to take care of an elderly neighbor. Having you right next door or just down the street could be a huge help, especially if she also doesn’t have any relatives who live nearby. Plan your grocery trips and take them together so she knows she always has a ride to the store. Get her mail when you get home from work, drop in quickly for a chat, and help out when you see fit.
Assistance Programs in Place
If you want to take it one step further and help many other senior who you don’t know, there are several assistance programs working hard right now to make sure no seniors in America go hungry. Below is a list of these programs if you are interested in helping or in passing on he information to your senior mom or other senior loved ones.
- Feeding America - Feeding America is the leading private nonprofit organization that helps feed people at risk of hunger. They have 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries throughout the country.
- Meals on Wheels Association of America - Meals on Wheels has over 5000 independently-run, local programs in the United States. The services offered at each Meals on Wheels location is geared toward the specific needs of that community.
- Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) - In some states, this program grants coupons to low-income seniors that can be exchanged for fruits and vegetables at Farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - SNAP is the United States government’s assistance program for low-income individuals and families designed to help people eat nutritiously.