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What would you do if faced with the choice of either having enough money for the food you need to sustain your life, or the medicine required to save it?

This is the dilemma facing a growing number of elderly Americans who are cutting their pills in half, skipping doses, and even going without entirely when it means the difference between spending money on medicine or spending money on food.

The greatest danger of this game of Russian Roulette is that in some cases it can be fatal for a person to suddenly discontinue certain medications. Yet some of our most vulnerable simply feel they have no choice but to take the risk.

A recent study conducted by University of Georgia researchers found that even though many seniors have insurance plans that cover most of their medications, those co-payments can be quite hefty and difficult to come up with. Reports Jung Sun Lee, assistant professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences who led the study:

“Engaging in medication restriction behaviors, such as skipping doses, creates problems for both the individuals and society. The exacerbation of diseases, adverse health events and avoidable hospitalizations result in increased health-care costs for all of us.

“However, when you’re not sure you’ll have enough money to refill your prescription and buy groceries, it’s easy to understand why someone will choose to skip a dose of medication needed to control diabetes or split a heart medication in half.” 1

Study participants were divided into categories, including “Food Secure” and “Food Insecure.” As you may have guessed, those classified as Food Insecure were those most likely to be skip their medications, as fear of where one’s next meal is coming from tends to trump all other concerns. The people in that category also tend to be among those who believed the promises that government would be there to look after them in their old age, yet the reality is that dependence puts them at great risk.

Right now they are using on average 20 percent of their social security benefits to pay for health care costs, a substantial percentage when total income often amounts to very little to begin with. Factor in the price inflation increasing at the grocery store every month, combined with the increased costs that will accrue once the so-called Affordable Care Act goes into effect, and we can expect some devastating results.

The fact that America’s dependent elderly population is struggling to make it should be cause for concern among those who assume there will be a safety net to catch the rest of us and provide for our needs when we reach our golden years. The question to ask yourself is this: when you get older will you be among the Food Secure or the Food Insecure?

Which category are you in now?

The only way to be truly secure is to have an adequate supply of storable food on hand before the time arrives when you will need it. Despite the assurances of government and media, the economy will not be improving any time soon.

If you are among those who feel you are unable to afford food storage right now, when do you think your situation will improve? If you resolve right now to acquire just a little every month, in no time you will find yourself in better shape than you were, and better prepared than most of the country. It really doesn’t cost that much to get started.  Start by getting an extra week’s worth of food now, next month get a few week’s more.  You’ll have an adequate supply in no time, and you’ll like the way it feels knowing you’re on your way to becoming Food Secure.

1    “Studies Find Strong Links Between Food Insecurity, Health Care Among The Elderly

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