| Tue, Dec 29, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Hunger: It’s More than a Feeling. It Can Make You Sick

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

hungerHunger can affect anyone, including seniors. One in six seniors in the U.S. goes hungry.1 In 2013, 9.6 million seniors age 60+ were at risk of hunger — an increase of 300,000 more seniors than in 2012.

Of the seniors affected by hunger:

  • approximately 40% had a disability;3
  • 58% had incomes 200% below the poverty line;4 and
  • many live in multigenerational household, such as with a grandchild.4

Adults who are ages 60 and older are more likely to suffer serious health issues due to hunger than adults ages 40 to 59.

Seniors afflicted with hunger are also at higher risk of developing certain health conditions, such as diabetes and depression, than seniors who get adequate nutrition. Hungry seniors have a 53% higher chance of heart attack and a 40% increase of congestive heart failure than their peers. They’re also twice as likely to get asthma and are 22% more likely to experience limitations in their Activities of Daily Living, like eating, dressing and bathing.

It is important that every senior have access to food with sound nutritional value. It may help to maintain or improve their health.

Senior hunger may be more common than you know. Some seniors may feel shame and embarrassment and won’t say they’re hungry or ask for the help they need. 

If you’re at risk of hunger, or you know someone who is, contact your local city, county or state government offices and ask how to apply for any food or nutritional assistance programs available to you. You may also want to apply to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a food assistance benefits program that helps low-income individuals and families.

Learn more about SNAP in your state and see if you qualify by using the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckup®.

Learn more about senior hunger and how to help at Feeding America.

Related Content

The Fight to End Hunger: Seniors in the U.S.

Nutrition: Why You Need It. Where to Get It.

Medicare Covers Medical Nutrition Therapy

Medicare Costs Got You Down? You May Qualify for Financial Help.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


1 Senior Hunger & SNAP, National Council on Aging, September 30, 2015

2 State of Senior Hunger in America 2013: An Annual Report, Dr. James P. Ziliak and Dr. Craig G. Gundersen. National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), April 23, 2015

3 It’s Solvable, National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), September 30, 2015

4 Spotlight on Senior Health, Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans, National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), March 18, 2014


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