Local seniors struggling to make ends meet amid inflation; organizations step in to help

Rhonda Foxx | July 21, 2022

MADISON (WKOW) — Inflation is hitting Americans hard, especially seniors on a budget.

Some have to make difficult lifestyle changes, just to make ends meet.

“Everything’s gone up,” said Nancy Thomas.

Thomas is one of many seniors who say inflation is battering their pocketbooks.

“I go to the grocery store and I spend an awful lot more money,” said Thomas.

Because many older adults are living on fixed incomes or can’t work full-time jobs, they’re having a hard time adjusting to the rise in the cost of living.

Food, housing and transportation costs have all increased substantially over the past five years. According to the USDA, older adults are feeling the pinch.

As inflation outpaces the cost of living for the elderly, senior centers are now becoming a necessity.

“For some seniors, this is the only meal they get a day,” said Laura Hunt, a program coordinator for the Madison Senior Center.

Hunt said she’s noticed more older adults like Judy Campbell stopping in for help.

“I’m really grateful for the meal program here, because I really think it would be harder to make ends meet,” said Campbell.

“Over the past year, we’ve definitely seen an increase in seniors about 11 percent,” said Jay Nielsen, Director of Community Programs with the Community Action Coalition.

Nielsen said he knows all too well how seniors struggle with inflation.

“There was a client there that only had one kind of soup left and he was saving it for when he was very hungry,” said Nielsen.

A growing number of elderly are requesting senior food boxes.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in requests for food. We are a food bank that serves a number of pantries in Dane, Jefferson and Waukesha County,” said Nielsen.

“The senior boxes contain shelf-stable foods and non-perishable foods. It’s usually about a month’s worth. We also include a two-pound package of refrigerated cheese. We’re trying to help the elderly offset the cost of inflation and the transportation rising costs,” said Marcus Slanton, Double Dollars Program Manager with the Community Action Coalition.

It’s not just food, seniors are asking for help with needs across the board.

“There’s been a demand for assistance and housing, be it rental assistance, mortgage assistance, or utility assistance,” said Nielsen.

“It’s getting harder,” said Thomas.

Nielsen also said they expect the number of older adults needing help to go up even more, as some pandemic funding across several counties will end in September.

If you know a senior who needs assistance complete the Community Action Coalition’s intake form.