Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

SENIORS & PROBLEM GAMBLING

Friday, April 18th, 2014

April’s episode of Aging Insights talks about seniors and gambling. One of the guests is Jeff Beck, Assistant Director for Clinical Services, Treatment & Research, Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. Today we feature Jeff as a guest blogger. Please read his informative piece about seniors and problem gambling. If you or someone you know has a problem please call 1-800-GAMBLER.

                Gambling has become normalized in all walks of our society. Problem gambling is an equal opportunity addiction; it can affect any gender, ethnicity, age, or income. Seniors can be at risk for gambling problems and research suggests there is an increased vulnerability for our older population.

                A study in New Jersey in 2006 identified 2% of individuals over 55 as pathological gamblers, 4% as problem gamblers and 17% as at risk gamblers. Combined that indicates that 1 out of 4 seniors may be at risk for a gambling problem.  A 2005 Pennsylvania study found that 10.9% of those over 65 in primary care facilities were at risk gamblers, this means that there is a strong possibility that gambling can interfere with health, legal status, family relations, work, physical issues, cognitive issues or emotional issues. Gambling is recognized as the most identified social activity by individuals over 65, moneys spent on bingo and casinos exceed money spent on lunches, shopping, movies and golf combined. casino_slot_machine

                Seniors may be vulnerable to gambling problems for a variety of reasons. They may be isolated and lonely, gambling can be a form of social interaction, the bus trips or bingo games are a chance to get together with friends. Gambling can be an antidote to boredom, which may set in after retirement. The senior may be attempting to cope with big changes or losses in life, gambling can be a form of maladaptive coping.  Physical illness or cognitive impairment may result in excess gambling. Seniors may be less likely to recognize addiction; they may see themselves as having a money problem rather than a gambling problem. Gambling may also represent an emotional escape, an ability to forget one’s problems, at least for a little while.

Bingo Cards

                There are several signs of senior gambling problems.  Loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and family can signify a gambling problem.  Large blocks of time unaccounted for is another sign. A change in attitude and personality often accompanies a gambling problem. Gambling problems can be evidenced by the sudden need for money or the sale or disappearance of assets. The neglect of personal needs may be suggestive of a gambling problem. Secrecy and avoidance when questioned about time or money is also possible evidence of a gambling issue.

                Gambling disorders are now recognized as an addiction, help is available. Treatment is possible and one can live a good productive life. Free counseling may be available with a certified compulsive gambling counselor. There are many self-help groups in New Jersey that can assist with gambling problems. The first step is to admit there may be a problem and to seek out help. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey operates a help-line at 1-800GAMBLER. There you can find someone who understands, a sympathetic ear that can provide you with information and resources that will allow you to stop or reduce your gambling. There need be no shame or guilt in admitting to a problem, that admission is actually a show of strength.  Today may be a great day to reach out for help at 1-800-GAMBLER.

What do you need to know?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

What do you need to know?

Are you looking for information on Veteran’s Benefits? Utility Assistance? Do you have questions about transportation? Are you interested in a new form of exercise? These interesting topics and many more are available by watching, Aging Insights on YouTube. Aging Insights is a ½ hour TV program that is produced monthly by NJFA.  Aging Insights provides programs that are relevant to boomers, caregivers and seniors. The goal is to connect them to community programs to address their unique needs and those of their families. 

In addition to being aired on multiple public access stations, you can view the entire library of 26 episodes on NJFA’s YouTube channel by visiting, www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging The November program discusses the financial and health benefits available to veterans. However, there are many more informative and entertaining episodes to watch online.

After you’ve checked them out, be sure to visit our website at www.njfoundationforaging.org and click “online survey” to take the Aging Insights survey where you can tell us what you thought of the show and suggest future topics.

 

 

 

Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7th

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7th

Open Enrollment is coming to a close soon. Every year Medicare gives you the opportunity to review your coverage and make changes. This year the Open Enrollment period is October 15 to December 7.

This is when people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. Information on 2014 plans has been available since the beginning of October. People with Medicare can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov for plan information. If a person is satisfied that their current plan will meet their needs for next year, they don’t need to do anything.

What can you do during Open Enrollment?

From October 15 to December 7 you can

  • Join or switch a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
  • Join or switch a Medicare Advantage Plan

During this period you should take time to review health and drug plan choices and choose the plan that fits your needs. Coverage begins on January 1, 2014.

Each year, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Drug Plans can change costs and coverage. Plans will mail an Evidence of Coverage/Annual Notice of Change to you. This notice gives details about plan coverage, costs, etc for the next year. Some plans may choose to leave Medicare and no longer offer the plan you have, meaning you’ll have to find a new plan during Open Enrollment. If this is the case your plan would have mailed you a notice of non-renewal.

To learn more about available plans visit- Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov

You can also:

  • Visit your plan’s website
  • Refer to the Medicare & You handbook
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
  • Or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)  at 1-800-792-8820 or http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/home/sashipsite.html

 

Money saving tips

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Money saving tips

Here are some great tips for saving money. We gathered these from various sources, to learn more about each follow the links provided or contact a trusted financial advisor. 

Find your pension

To see if you or someone you know has an unclaimed pension-Search.pbgc.gov

Free credit monitoring

Creditsesame.com

Catch-up

If you are 50 or over you can contribute an extra $5,500 to your 401K plan as a catch up contribution in 2013

 Family ties

If adult children or grandchildren live with you it may mean special tax breaks. Ask your tax preparer about claiming dependents for family members you support.

Save on stamps

Paying bills online means not buying stamps

Free credit report

Don’t pay for credit reports. Get a free copy once a year from three companies- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Visit annualcreditreport.com

Selling your home?

The best day of the week to list your home for sale is Friday and the worst is Sunday. according to an analysis by a major real-estate brokerage firm. Listings on Fridays sell faster and for more money.

Save money on medications

Ask your doctor for free samples. Drug company reps drop them off all the time.

Skip the ER

If you have a non-life-threatening medical issue, like fevers, cuts, minor burns or headaches. Urgent care centers with walk-in features are more affordable and usually are open 7 days a week.

Grow it

If you put the stub of romaine lettuce in a glass of water and place it in a sunny spot it will grow back, the same is true of celery, spring onions and cabbage.

Weigh your options

If you need only a few vegetables or fruits for a recipe or meal, buying a small amount from the salad bar at your supermarket may be cheaper than buying a bag of precut vegetables.

Check it out

Instead of buying a book, why not visit your local library and borrow it.

Service advisory

If you get your car serviced at the dealer, ask to check for any service advisories. You might save on a repair that is covered.

Compare 401 (k) fees

Financial information company, BrightScope features free 401 (K) ratings directory that compares fees among plans. Check it out at brightscope.com/ratings

Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 22-29, 2013

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 22-29, 2013

The Falls Prevention Workgroup and Division of Aging Services are promoting the 5th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 22-29, 2013. Governor Christie declared September 23-29, 2013 Falls Prevention Awareness week with events happening throughout the state. The fall prevention workgroup is comprised of PTs, EMS personnel, health educators, etc. 

It is reported that more than one third of adults age 65 and older fall each year in the US. In New Jersey, an average of 194 people age 60 and over are treated in the ER or as inpatients due to a fall. Falls are the number one cause of brain injury in adults. as you can tell, falls are a serious problem.

The upside to this is that falls are preventable. And that is what Fall Prevention Week is all about, bringing awareness to the issue and helping people to prevent falls.

First things first, exercise is a good idea. It will increase your strength, flexibility and balance.

Make sure to get important exams, like an eye exam, yearly. Make sure your doctor and pharmacist review your medicines- both prescription and over the counter to make sure there are no side effects or interactions that could put you at risk. Also, there are some medications that can cause dizziness or weakness, so make sure you are aware if you are taking any with those side effects.

Wear the right footwear. You’d be surprised how many falls are due to this. Make sure your shoes fit properly and have non-slip soles.

You can do things around the house to make it safer as well. Remove clutter in your hallways and rooms. Make sure any wires or cords are out of the way. Make lights brighter, especially in stairways. Install bath grips or grab bars in your tub or shower. Limiting the use of area rugs is a good idea, but if you use them, make sure they are the kind with non-skid liners.

The best way to make Fall Prevention Awareness Week in NJ a success is by spreading the word.

Learn more at http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/doas/services/fallprev/index.html

And be sure to check out the 24th Episode of NJFA’s TV Program, Aging Insights, which features exercises that help to promote strength and balance!

www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging

Aging Insights and You- Fall Prevention

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

                                                           Press Release

Aging Insights and You- Fall Prevention 

Trenton– The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is a public charity with the primary goal to empower elders to live in the community with independence and dignity.  The strategies to age well are voluminous.  Consequently, the Foundation uses several outreach and educational tools to highlight resources to age well.  For example, Aging Insights is a ½ hour TV program that is produced monthly by the Foundation.  September is Fall Prevention Month. The September program touches on ways to stay strong and healthy in order to avoid falls as well as other medical ailments.

Over the last two years an expansive range of shows have been produced by the Foundation. Utility assistance will be discussed in October to get folks ready for the winter heat season.  Other topics have included pet health, driver safety, community transportation, fitness, money management, foreclosure prevention and County resources.  Why so many topics?  Grace Egan, the Executive Director indicates “that these are topics relevant to boomers, caregivers and seniors. Our intent is to connect them to community programs to address their unique needs and those of their families”.  NJFA seeks sponsorships to underwrite these community education TV programs that are broadcast more than 300 times a month across NJ. The show is broadcast to an area of more than 6 million residents. Sponsorship opportunities are listed on the NJFA website www.njfoundationforaging.org

NJFA is pleased to announce the release of the 24th episode of Aging Insights, the Foundation’s TV program. This episode, Balance for Body and Mind, will be broadcast in September 2013. The program is available to public access stations and may also be seen on NJFA’s YouTube channel, www.Youtube.com/njfoundationforaging 

This episode is hosted by NJFA Program Manager, Melissa Chalker and she is joined by Siobhan Hutchinson, a Holistic Health Practitioner and Tai Chi Chih instructor and Romy Toussaint, a yoga instructor. Both guests share information about their respective practices, provide tips, as well as discuss the benefits of each. A demonstration of both Tai Chi Chih and Yoga can also be seen in this episode. Please visit NJFA’s website to take the new online survey for Aging Insights. We want to know what you think of the show and what topics you’d like to hear next!

On the set from left to right: Melissa Chalker, Siobhan Hutchinson, and Romy Toussaint

To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging was established in 1998, its mission is promote policy and services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity.

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SCAM Update and Warning about Robocalls

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

There was recently an article in the AARP Bulletin on that had to do with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) cracking down on new scams. This made us think we should do a blog update on scams and pass out some new warnings from the FTC.

What’s new? Well, it seems scammers are now impersonating medical alert companies in order to get money or personal information (to steal your identity) from seniors. The scams are coming in the form of phone calls, sometimes with a live person and sometimes an automated or robocall. The calls are either trying to sell you a system, often using very strong tactics to get you to give your credit card or other payment information or they are stating that you (or someone you know) have already ordered the system and demanding payment. They have even been known to threaten legal action if you don’t pay up.

What you should know. Robocalls are illegal. But you may be asking, what is a Robocall? Well, direct from the FTC, here is an explanation of a robocall:

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. You’ve probably gotten robocalls about candidates running for office, or charities asking for donations. These robocalls are allowed. But if the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal. In addition to the phone calls being illegal, their pitch most likely is a scam.

So, what should you do if you get a robocall? The FTC recommends that you, hang up the phone. They also say you shouldn’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.

What else can you do?

• Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, ask about whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.

• Report your experience to the FTC online at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0341-file-complaint-ftc or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

Some other helpful tips:

If you get an unsolicited call, hang up. Don’t even ask for details from someone making a cold call.

If you are interested in a medical alert product, gather the information and ask for documentation of fees up front.

Beware of offers that state your insurance will cover medical alert programs or that you can get them for free. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies will not pay for this service.

Don’t pay for anything that you didn’t order. Hang up and contact authorities to make a complaint if you are threatened.

And again, don’t press any numbers as prompted in the robocall, this could just notify them that this is a live, working phone number and you could become the target of future calls or scams.

For more information from the Federal Trade Commission visit: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0259-robocalls

Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

 Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

In continued celebration of NJFA’s 15th Anniversary, we’d like to share with you a guest blog from a former grantee, The Camden City Garden Club, Inc.

The Camden City Garden Club, Inc. (CCGC) operates several programs, which provide Camden residents of all ages access to fresh, locally-grown healthy food.  The CCGC’s Community Gardening Program enables 1000s of Camden families to grow their own food in community gardens, close to residents’ homes and promotes fellowship among neighbors.  The Camden City Garden Club provides plants, seeds, fertilizers, fencing, supplies and tips to its members for a small membership fee.

Through the Community Gardening Program, the CCGC works with the community to fight hunger and obesity in Camden, NJ, which is the one of the poorest, most dangerous US cities and also one of the “Top 9 Food Deserts”, according to the USDA. In 2013, the CCGC celebrates 29 Years of the Community Gardening Program, which is “perhaps the fastest growing in the US,” according to University of Pennsylvania study.  Today, CCGC has created and supports over 120 community gardens, 100 family gardens, and 12 school gardens.  The CCGC is helping more than 12% of Camden residents to eat fresh food from these gardens, producing an estimated $2.3 million in fresh produce each year, according to the report by University of Pennsylvania.

CCGC PROGRAMS ARE ASSISTING NJ SENIORS

With support from foundations like the NJ Foundation for Aging(NJFA), the CCGC has increased community gardening with seniors at Camden senior residence facilities.  CCGC and NJFA have also established a Senior Citizen Advisory Council for the Garden Club to improve services to encourage seniors to garden.  The Council has been operating successfully with 10 members, who represent various communities in the City of Camden.  Council members serve as teachers, mentors and guides to advance community gardens in Camden, addressing the particular needs of senior citizens and their families.  They provide the CCGC with advice on the needs of seniors and serve as mentors for those wishing to start-up new gardens and improve their gardening methods.

The CCGC Community Gardening Program is multi-generational and multi-ethnic.  It has a way of bringing together people of different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds and having them work together to grow food for themselves, their families and neighbors.   The study by the University of Pennsylvania found that Camden gardens were remarkable for the amount of surplus that they produced and their generosity in sharing it with their neighbors.  These programs are especially helpful to Camden’s elderly as they often to not have access to transportation, are on a fixed income and because growing fresh foods is so important to a healthy active lifestyle.

GARDENING AT SENIOR HOUSING & GROWING FELLOWSHIP

Since its founding, senior citizens have always been a cherished part of the Garden Club.  Many of the members were older people who were interested in gardening since the time they were young children.  Garden Club senior gardeners include African Americans who grew up on farms in the South, some from Mexico, Puerto Rico and others who remember gardening with their parents and grandparents on small backyard gardens. 

Through support from the NJFA, the CCGC has been able to expand their services for seniors.  The Club supports large gardens at Northgate I and Northgate II, senior housing developments that accommodate over 50 gardeners.  There are several other community gardens throughout the City of Camden which are led by and cultivated by the CCGC’s active gardening senior.  Some outstanding gardens have been attributed to senior gardeners:  Paul Williams has an extensive garden – both have been focal points of their neighborhoods and a source of a surplus of healthy food.   The CCGC has supported the extensive community garden called the “Men’s Garden” because of the large number of senior men who garden there, as well as, their utilizing the outdoor space as a meeting place. 

INTERGENERATIONAL GARDENING & LEARNING

CCGC’s Community Gardening Program also offers opportunities for intergenerational learning.  Seniors have the opportunity to mentor the Camden teenagers who work as part of Youth Employment and Job Training Program,.  In addition, CCGC hosts AmeriCorps volunteers, young people who are part of the program CCGC hosts who come to volunteer in Camden, help seniors with some of their gardening work in return for learning from them about gardening, food and life.  Hundreds of Camden school children participate annually in the CCGC’s GrowLab Program.  Many of these children have community gardens in their neighborhoods at home, so they often teach their families and neighbors what they learned in school.  The seniors enjoy working and teaching the children what they know about gardening and preparing healthy meals also! 

SUPPLEMENTATION DELIVERED

To help supplement the food grown in the community gardens, the CCGC also operates a successful mini farm stand at the Camden Children’s Garden, which sells produce to seniors to supplement what they are able to grow themselves, with items like seasonal apples, blueberries, peaches and corn.  The Fresh Mobile Market will sell quality fresh vegetables and fruit at low prices.  Some of the produce will be grown at the CCGC’s Urban Farm on 3rd and Beckett Streets in Camden, NJ.  CCGC Board member and supporter, Duffield’s Farm in Sewell, NJ, will also supply produce.  In addition, the newly launched Fresh Mobile Market Program will bring fresh foods even closer to the homes of elderly residents, with a special focus on senior housing.  This program was launched May 2013 at a senior living facility Mickle Towers, along with the Fresh Mobile Partners, including the NJ Department of Agriculture, NJ 5th Legislative District, Camden County Freeholders, City of Camden Mayor, City of Camden Council, Duffield’s Farm, Holman Ford Lincoln, Walmart Corporation, Whole Foods Markets.  Also, the CCGC’s “Camden Grows”, the USDA Entrepreneurial Gardening Program, will enable Camden Community Gardeners to make a profit by selling their surplus of crops to the Mobile Market Program. 

POPULATION SERVED

The target population for the NJFA grants were low income senior citizens.  Throughout the year, CCGC estimates that at least 1,400 senior citizens (20% of CCGC’s 7,000 gardeners have been served).  CCGC has exceeded their goals for Senior Community Gardening and will continue to work with seniors as an integral part of the garden program. 

In conclusion, seniors are important leaders in the CCGC, providing inspiration and direction to gardeners of all ages throughout the city.  There is a great excitement about CCGC’s Community Gardening Program in Camden and senior citizens are an important reason for that.

To learn more about the Camden City Garden Club go to http://camdenchildrensgarden.org/about.html

 

 

New Rules for Durable Medical Equipment in New Jersey

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

New Rules for Durable Medical Equipment in New Jersey

If you are a beneficiary with Original Medicare (a person who has Parts A and B of Medicare and not a Medicare Advantage plan) who uses  or plans to use certain durable medical equipment and supplies, such as oxygen, walkers, or wheelchairs, you should know about the new rules that started on July 1, 2013 in New Jersey.  The Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program is an attempt to save money for taxpayers and people with Medicare and may change the suppliers people with Medicare will need to use.

Most counties and zip codes in New Jersey will now be a part of this competitive bidding program.  You can check if your zip code is in a competitive bidding are by going to a fact sheet at http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and Education/Outreach/Partnerships/Downloads/DMEPOSBeneFactSheetMarch2013.pdf

As of July 1, people with Original Medicare who live in or travel to one of these areas and need the items listed below will need to get these items from an approved contract supplier if they want Medicare to cover these supplies, unless their current suppliers decide to become grandfathered suppliers (non-contract suppliers that choose to continue to provide certain rented medical equipment or oxygen under the terms of the program). 

Beneficiaries will need to find out which suppliers are Medicare contract suppliers to make sure Medicare will  pay for their medical equipment or supplies. You can find out if a supplier is a contract supplier for the program by visiting http://www.medicare.gov/supplierdirectory/search.html or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). 

The competitive bidding program will only cover certain categories of products.  The 8 product categories that are included in the program are:

1.         Oxygen, oxygen equipment, and supplies;

2.         Standard (power and manual) wheelchairs, scooters, and related  accessories;

3.         Enteral nutrients, equipment, and supplies;

4.         Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, Respiratory Assist Devices (RADs) and related supplies and accessories;

5.         Hospital beds and related accessories;

6.         Walkers and related accessories;

7.         Support surfaces (Group 2 mattresses and overlays); and

8.         Negative Pressure Wound Therapy pumps and related supplies and accessories.

In addition to the categories of items listed, Medicare will be starting a national mail-order program for diabetic testing supplies at the same time.  The national mail-order program will include all parts of the United States, including the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.  With this national mail-order program, people with Original Medicare will need to use a contract supplier for diabetic testing supplies delivered to their homes.  If these supplies are not delivered to a beneficiary’s  home, a beneficiary can go to any retailer that provides these supplies, but they may pay more. 

To assist beneficiaries, Medicare mailed information to people in the competitive bidding areas who use the items included in the program, in addition to those who use diabetic testing supplies across the country.  Approximately 5.7 million people with Medicare have been sent a letter and information.  You can review the letters, introductory brochure, national mail-order program fact sheet and other program education materials by visiting http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/Partnerships/DMEPOS_Toolkit.html.

Should you have any questions, please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at 732-777-1940.  You can also contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-800-792-8820.

 

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

A recent Appellate Division’s decision provides an important opportunity for municipalities to utilize much-needed housing trust funds to address the chronic shortage of affordable housing for low-income seniors across the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many of these funds were specifically designated for the development of senior housing in the nine counties hardest hit by the storm. This includes 131 senior units in Monmouth County, 6 special needs unit for the elderly by Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey in Livingston, Essex County; and 5 senior rental by Catholic Charities in Harrison, Hudson County.

The court’s decision comes at a critical time in this state’s history with the high demand for affordable senior housing and the rising cost of living. In just three short years, the cost of living for seniors living in a one bedroom apartment on a fixed income in New Jersey has increased 8 percent, according to data released in 2012 by the New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA).

The cost of living for a single renter over the age of 65 was $25,941 in 2009. That same renter, living in the same one-bedroom apartment, saw her cost of living quickly climb more than $2,000 to $27,960, by 2012. However, there was not a comparable rise in income or Social Security.  Seniors on fixed incomes have been plagued in recent years with rising expenses for housing, transportation and health care. In many cases this has resulted in a rise in senior hunger and even homelessness. Their highest cost is their housing expenses.

Twenty five percent of all seniors in our state rely on Social Security as their only income. So NJ seniors can least afford the trend in rising expenses. The result is a widening of the gap between basic living expenses and their income. The NJ Elder Economic Index details these costs for seniors in each of the 21 NJ counties. These details indicate how seniors are faring in the slow economy. The latest data shows that 250,000 seniors over the age of 65 in New Jersey – representing 42 percent of single and elderly couples living in the community – do not have the money to cover their basic costs. Sixty-four percent of people in this group are women.

The report, known as the NJ Elder Economic Index, indicates that the average Social Security for a woman being $14,848. But average living expenses for a one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey has reached the $27,960 mark. So how can we expect to call these the golden years if elders must choose between food, heat, shelter or prescriptions? Even if a person worked and saved for retirement this rise in costs are unprecedented and these elders are one step from their own ‘fiscal cliff’. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging wants to alert and connect elders to resources in their community that might ease the financial strain they may be feeling each day. 

A woman receiving $14,848 from Social Security as her sole income with the average costs of a one bedroom apartment at $27,960 is only 53% economically secure.  At this income level she would be eligible for several food and nutrition programs, as well utility assistance programs. These programs would improve her quality of life and enable her to use her income to cover more of her basic living costs, but she would still fall short of meeting her costs by 21%. The only public benefit program that would help her to close the gap is affordable housing. 

The most costly portion of an elder’s monthly expenses is their housing. More than 46 percent of their income must go towards their housing, taxes and utilities.  This highlights the need for more affordable housing. The state’s housing shortage has been documented for several decades. And the need for affordable housing in the community for people of all ages has only been further stressed by the recent storms and floods across the state. Public awareness is a key component to help local advocates, state policy makers, municipal leaders and planners address current and future needs. Where you live at age 65 or 70?  Persons over age 75 and older have even fewer income assets. Where will your parents live at age 85?

If these funds are not protected and utilized, Otherwise low-income seniors and low-income families will continue to be displaced by Sandy and homeless for many years to come. Each municipality’s affordable housing trust funds are needed now more than ever for the development of new housing because of the impact of hurricane Sandy. We cannot afford to be silent on this issue. Elders who have been active in their community who want to downsize need affordable housing options; working families who want good schools and safe streets need affordable housing; health care workers who want to be close to their work and patients need affordable housing. A healthy blend of housing types is crucial to nurture a community’s cultural and social vitality as well as its economic base. “NJ Strong” must include affordable housing options to serve it residents and to build back the local economy.

*this was submitted and printed as an op-ed in the Asbury Park Press on 6/19/13 by Grace Egan, Executive Director, NJFA