Putting off a Surgery to Keep Food on the Table
More than a decade ago, 67-year-old Joyce* was injured in a car crash, an event that required her to get knee surgery.
Surgery involved a long recovery, so knowing she had to keep working to support herself and her daughter, who has a disability, Joyce put off getting that surgery for 10 years.
Experiencing other health issues as well, Joyce said she has had to choose between health care and food many times. “I have pretty good health insurance,” Joyce said. “But there have been times when I haven’t gone to a specialist. I just don’t go. A $50 copay? Fifty dollars can buy us five or six days’ worth of meals.”
Through SNAP, Joyce gets some help purchasing food she otherwise could not afford. “I don’t make a lot on social security,” Joyce said. It makes it hard to access fresh foods, which tend to cost more than most shelf-stable items. “One of the things we don’t buy very much is meat. I can get iron deficient really easily.”
In addition to meat, fresh fruits and vegetables are difficult to buy when she’s just trying to make ends meet. “We would like to not have to pay 15 dollars for a couple ears of corn and a couple of tomatoes,” Joyce said. “Sometimes the only stuff we can afford is the canned stuff. I grew up on a farm—I much prefer fresh vegetables and fruits to canned.”
Joyce’s situation is unfortunately a narrative we hear often. Someone is doing fine financially for their whole lives, and just one event can change everything. Maintaining health or recovering from an injury are at times postponed because food still needs to get to the table. Our neighbors are resilient, but at some point, all of us need help once in a while.
May is Older Americans Month, a time to recognize the experiences so many of our older neighbors are having. Ten percent of the people we serve are over the age of 60, and that number is growing every year. But together, we can make sure people like Joyce never have to worry about accessing food again. Learn how to get involved.
*A representative name has been used to protect the privacy of our clients.