A recent news story revealed that more senior citizens than ever are showing up at soup kitchens across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports an increase of 81 percent last year in the number of seniors living alone who sought help from food pantries, compared to two years earlier. Catholic Charities USA, which helps the needy, noted a 54 percent rise in requests from seniors for food and services in the third quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2008.
So what does this all mean? Naturally, much of the blame can be placed on the current recession. Retirement funds and nest eggs are drying up. Health care is in flux, making it necessary for seniors to choose between buying medication or food and causing them to skip medical appointments. Social Security and small pensions are not enough to keep up with mortgage or rent payments and utility bills. It’s hard to buy food when the prices keep rising and you are on a fixed income.
At the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we have a special place in our hearts for the elderly who are suffering through tough times. We do what we can by offering food, shelter, clothing, medical and dental care, and companionship at a time when they need it most — in their golden years. Life can be very lonely when you are aged with inadequate finances or no family and friends around. Many of our senior citizens are too proud and too private to seek help. After all, they survived through the Great Depression and other economic downturns in our history, so they may feel that they can make it now too. But that’s not always possible.
We must respect our older citizens. They have come through a lot and continue to go through a lot today. Check on your elderly neighbors and relatives. Make sure they are eating right and have access to enough food. Spend some time sitting and talking with seniors. We owe it to them.