The costs of living -- basic expenses like food, housing, health care
and transportation -- are too much for millions of people aged 65 and
older to bear, according to a study released Thursday
examining the gaps between income and expenses for many older
Americans. The report, from the nonprofit group Wider Opportunities for
Women, is the first of a planned series that will examine the financial
pressures affecting senior citizens.
Amid the weak economy of the past several years, older Americans have
been suffering alongside everybody else. The housing crash erased
millions of dollars in home equity nationwide and dealt a serious blow to the wealth of many seniors, sending hundreds of thousands of retired Americans back into the workforce to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, health care costs are rising, and more than one in five people over age 50 say they have skipped doctor visits,
switched to cheaper medications, or simply avoided certain medications
altogether because the expense was too high. The increasing costs of
medical care are also likely to offset the modest boost in Social Security that went into effect this January.
For many older Americans, the situation is desperate. Some 3.5
million seniors live in poverty, according to Census figures, but that
number rises to about 6.2 million
when health care costs are factored in. In 2010, the National Alliance
to End Homelessness predicted that homeless rates among the elderly would climb by 33 percent -- or about 14,000 people -- within a decade's time.