Rising costs hitting older North Carolinians exceptionally hard

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Saturday, November 12, 2022
Rising costs hitting older North Carolinians exceptionally hard
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While the percentage of older Americans in poverty has increased, so too has the number who have headed back to work.

The combination of inflation and rising housing cost is taking a toll on the older generation.

Across the U.S., the percentage of people 65 years and older in poverty has increased. The U.S. Census reported 10.6% of seniors were in poverty in 2021; up from 8.9% in the years before.

"About half of our people live at or below poverty and so that's been a concern for us to help them stretch their dollars and as prices for everything just keep going up and up," said Alan Winstead, the exec. director of Wake County Meals on Wheels.

The local organization delivers meals to seniors across the county. Winstead said in the last year, their operation has increased by up to 15% or 300 more seniors.

"If we're able to provide lunch to them, you know, then they're able to use that money for the other things that they need medicine, electricity, and all of those other things," he said.

This increase in the need for assistance locally matches national data that highlights the toll that inflation is having on the older generation.

Many older individuals are on fixed incomes, which makes price hikes hit even harder.

Nine out of ten people age 65 and older received a social security benefit, according to the Social Security Administration. For retired workers, this equates to around $1,669 a month.

While the percentage of older Americans in poverty has increased, so too has the number who have headed back to work.

Nearly 20% of people older than 65 years old were employed in October 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is up from the 18% in that age group who were employed in 2021.

The good news is Winstead said organizations like Meals on Wheels are still able to help more.

"The cost of the food, cost to prepare the food, costs to deliver the food has all increased, but right now we're able to do all of that. We're able to do it for everybody, so there's nobody on a waiting list here," he said.

People who are interested in getting involved with Meals on Wheels can find more information here.

"We are still able to serve every senior adult who calls Meals on Wheels and wants to participate. So, you know, I think people just really need a little bit of extra help right now," he said.

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