The month of March mobilizes hundreds of local Meals on Wheels programs across the country to reach out to their communities and build the support that will enable them to serve America's seniors all year long. The 18th annual March for Meals campaign gave the businesses, organizations, governments and volunteers who contribute so generously in their communities an opportunity to support home-bound seniors in a variety of ways to make America stronger and healthier.
Our nation’s senior population is growing exponentially. 1 in 5 Americans is 60 or older, with 12,000 more turning 60 each day. The population is set to reach 118,000,000 by the year 2060, more than double the number in 2010, leaving even more Americans at risk of hunger and isolation. Nearly 9,500,000 seniors are threatened by hunger, more than half of which are rated as food insecure.
1 in 4 seniors lives alone. 1 in 5 feels lonely, and social isolation among older adults is associated with an extra $6,700,000,000 in Medicare spending each year. While hunger and isolation can affect anyone with limited mobility and declining health, financial strain makes them much worse.
7,100,000 seniors live in poverty. These threats from aging not only jeopardize the health and well being of older adults, they also place a significant strain on our country’s healthcare system and economy. The economic burden associated with malnutrition in seniors is in excess of $51,000,000,000. Medicare spending is disproportionately concentrated on older adults with multiple chronic condition and/or functional limitations.
Meals on Wheels is the only federally supported program designed specifically to meet the nutritional and social needs of seniors, yet this successful public-private partnership remains significantly underfunded. Among older adults who have difficulty with daily activities, 2 out of 3 receive limited or no home or community-based care. 83% of low income, food insecure seniors are not receiving the meals they need.
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