A recent study funded by the Meals on Wheels organization revealed that 5 million senior Americans, that’s almost 12% of the senior population, face hunger every day. Half of those 5 million are living above the federal poverty line and two thirds of them are younger seniors between the ages of 60 to 65.
These surprising statistics mean that, even if you live in an affluent neighborhood, it’s likely that a senior you know is going hungry, is not getting the major nutrients they need, or is “food insecure.” This is the Meals on Wheels term for “at-risk” – meaning there isn’t a consistent and reliable way for these folks to get healthy meals.
Besides poverty (some seniors are living on social security alone and the average check barely clears the federal poverty line), the causes are complicated:
- Seniors who have lost a spouse may not have the skills to cook for themselves
- Poor health or limited mobility may prevent them from shopping and cooking
- Those recently discharged from the hospital may find their circumstances drastically changed, temporarily making food shopping and preparation very difficult throughout the recovery period.
- For some, struggling alone (financially or otherwise) is easier than asking anyone for help
- Adult children may not live in the area and may not be able to provide help with or monitor healthy eating habits
- Medications may cause side effects that include lack of appetite or stomach upset
- Seniors who feel depressed or lonely often lose interest in eating
Added to the risks are different nutritional needs. As we age our metabolisms slow down and it’s likely we are not as active as we once were; dietary requirements at 70 are not the same at 40 or 50. Because the body doesn’t burn as many calories, it’s important for sedentary seniors to make every calorie count by eating nutrient-dense foods.
If you know a senior, or you are a senior, facing hunger or food insecurity, freeze-dried meals are may be the perfect solution. Because freeze-dried meals are so simple to prepare, seniors can maintain their (fiercely guarded!) independence without sacrificing the enjoyment of good-quality meals. If you are able to safely boil water, you can enjoy hot, restaurant-quality, nutrient-dense meals with variety – and little clean up. Freeze-dried meals can be ordered directly from us by phone and will be delivered to your door – eliminating transportation problems. Freeze-dried meals are packaged in easy to open Mylar envelopes, won’t spoil and fit into tight budgets.
The Meals on Wheels crew will tell you, emergency situations pose additional risks for seniors. Ensure your senior family members have an emergency kit in their homes:
- An adequate supply or means of creating at least a 3-day supply of safe water
- A minimum 3-day supply of freeze-dried food
- Battery powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
- Multipurpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl). See the post, Emergency Planning for Pets.