According to a research conducted by The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), “nearly 1 in 10 Medicare enrollees age 65 and over 4 in 10 enrollees younger than 65 with long-term disabilities experience food insecurity.” This issue of food insecurity stems from healthcare concerns. Food insecurity occurs when people are unable to get access to food due to high poverty. This often becomes a matter of concern for mainly older adults.
A research conducted by Jeanne Madden of Northeastern University shows the exact same findings. Madden’s research studies how 4 out of 10 people are unable to feed themselves, how the inequalities in society are affecting a particular section of the society. Her research examined data from a 2016 survey conducted by Medicare in which around 10.000 people participated. The research concluded that 9.1 per cent of older Americans are going to bed hungry and 38.3 per cent of younger American do not get enough to eat.
Madden, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy and Health Systems Science, says, “It’s a really important group because they’re known to be very vulnerable, clinically, socially, and they’re costly, they’re often in Medicare and Medicaid and they’re often very ill.”
She says that efforts are being taken to address the problem within the healthcare system even though they have certain limitations. There are certain clinics that refer their patients to social services, like Meals on Wheels or the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, after screening them for food and housing issues. Some clinics are really concerned about their patients and make sure that they are provided with food on the spot.
Likewise, certain hospitals enquire about their patients to know whether they have proper food to eat at home before discharging them. The patients identified no to have enough food at home are recommended to certain social services like Meals on Wheels or sent home with a food package. The Accountable Health Communities Model provides social needs through screening, referral, and community services.
Even though the research was unable to conclude why this situation arises, Madden believes that these two results are not interconnected. She concludes by saying, “If someone can’t afford to eat properly, that can affect their health. If they’re in poor health, that imposes costs on them and puts physical limitations on them which interferes with their ability to get food.”