Q. It seems as though my senior parents have less money than ever for essentials as well as to do the things they want to do. I'm worried that they're cutting back too much. Is that happening to other older adults? If so, what can adult children do?
A: Seniors throughout the country are, in fact, feeling the economic impact, according to the results of an AARP survey released in January.
As a result of the economic downturn, many individuals 65 and older say that in the past 12 months they cut back on entertainment spending (53 percent) and eating out (49 percent).
Additionally, 45 percent had more difficulty paying for essential items such as food, gas and medicine in 2008, and 38 percent found it more difficult to pay for utilities.
Compared with a similar survey conducted in April, the impact of the economy on seniors' essentials and utilities seemed to lessen. Researches theorize that the decline in energy prices the second half of the year may have helped older adults cope. Not surprisingly, though, even more respondents reported reductions in entertainment spending in December than those who completed the survey in April. Cuts in entertainment spending for those 65 and older jumped from 45 percent in April to 53 percent in December.
Senior experts say that older adults are particularly at risk in two areas including increased isolation and putting their own health in jeopardy by cutting back too much on important things.
Eliminating entertainment may mean that seniors are spending too much time home alone. And if seniors don't have enough money for essentials such as medication and food, they could be skimping on nutrition and treatments that can keep them healthy.
Please engage your parents in a candid discussion about their situation. Perhaps they need extra help to get out in the community or for the social interaction that can keep their minds alert.
A caregiver companion could serve that role as well as a second set of eyes to help ensure that your loved ones are remaining safe and healthy.
Contact Home Instead Senior Care or your local Area Agency on Aging for ways that you can help your senior loved ones in these tough economic times.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, call 522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.
For more information about the survey, log on to www.aarp.org/research/economy/trends/economic_slowdown_09.html. To view the survey results, visit assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/econ/economic_slowdown_09.pdf.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Lycoming, Clinton, Northumberland and Montour counties.