In a new study, researchers found almost 10% of U.S. seniors don’t have enough food to eat.
They also found for those under 65 who qualify for Medicare because they’re disabled, 4 of 10 may be going hungry.
The research was conducted by a team from Northeastern University in Boston.
The problem of what researchers call “food insecurity” isn’t a new one.
It’s officially defined as an inability to get enough food due to financial reasons.
According to the team, things are being done within the health care system to try to address this, such as screening patients for the problem and giving patients access to social workers that can help them find services available to them, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the U.S. federal government.
But it’s a systemic problem and people really struggle. Addressing it solely in the health care system is just staunching the bleeding.
In the study, the team analyzed data from nearly 10,000 people who took part in a 2016 Medicare survey.
Just over 8,000 were over 65 and on Medicare, and almost 1,600 were under 65 and on Medicare.
They found about 38% of those under 65 reported they were going hungry. Slightly more than 9% of those over 65 were with the same risk.
In addition, the risk factors included having an income of less than $15,000 a year, four or more chronic illnesses, depression, and anxiety.
The team says the study highlights an important social problem—food insecurity among older adults.
In addition, there’s often still a stigma attached to the problem, especially for older adults. That may keep people from accessing government programs when they need them.
The team also warns that not having enough food to eat is often a problem that emerges slowly. Decreased mobility, lower-income, and chronic illnesses are factors that may play a part.
The lead author of the study is Jeanne Madden.
The study is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
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