The family members who take care of them suffer financially, too.

Five million U.S. seniors’ health is at risk because they can’t afford to eat a nutritious diet — and their family members are struggling to help them.

Half of Americans taking care of an elderly family member say it’s a financial burden that affects their job performance, says a study from Securian Financial Group.

Starving senior citizens

Two-thirds of seniors are too poor to afford a nutritious diet, but too rich to qualify for governmental food programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

A poor diet increases seniors’ chances of developing health conditions like diabetes, heart problems and asthma. This puts many older Americans in an even harsher financial situation, as most can’t afford healthcare once they stop working.

“Many Older Americans encounter a myriad of issues the general population does not face, including health conditions, transportation challenges, and physical limitations,” says Feeding America President Matt Knott.

Historically, most senior Americans would’ve purchased a standalone long-term care insurance plan. But, rising costs of these elderly healthcare insurance plans has made it difficult for Americans to afford the costs.

Can’t afford long-term care

Kim Anderson, a Securian executive, knows first-hand the financial strain providing care to an elderly family member can put on not just that person —  but their family as well.

“In January, my mother’s health declined considerably and we made the difficult decision to move her into a skilled memory care facility,” says Anderson. “To help cover the steep costs of this high level of care, my father moved in with my family.”

Forty-eight percent of those currently caring for an elderly family do not have long-term care insurance. Half of them say they don’t have it because it is too expensive, and 10 percent feel it’s not a worthwhile investment. The half who say it is too expensive more than have a point. Long-term care insurance costs have been surging, according to previous reporting.

For those Americans who cannot afford long-term care insurance, they’re just winging it and cutting back as much as they can to support their senior relatives.

Juggling act: Career and caring for elderly family members

Sixty-two percent of caregivers spend more than 10 hours a week caring for a family member, and 29 percent spend more than 20 hours per week. That’s a part-time job additional to a career and other family obligations. This leads 52 percent of caregivers to say they struggle to keep up with their own financial well-being. reported before that Americans can’t afford to take care of older relatives. A poll from life insurance company Northwestern Mutual revealed that 67 percent of Americans had to cut down their own living expenses to take care of a senior family member, which had increased 16 percent from the year before. This means because Americans can’t afford long-term care, they’re sacrificing their own living costs; putting their source of income at risk.

“The financial burden of missing extended periods of work to provide care for a loved one is a struggle for many,” Anderson says.  “As the primary caregiver for my mother who is battling Alzheimer’s disease, I know firsthand the emotional and financial burden of caring for an aging parent while raising two young children and having a full-time career.”


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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

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Pye is the associate editor of


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Article last modified on July 9, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Poor, Elderly Americans Can’t Afford Food And Healthcare - AMP.