Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Roughly 50% of Elderly Live near Poverty Line / Notes Official

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Roughly 50% of Elderly Live near Poverty Line / Notes Official

Article excerpt

With national statistics undeniably telling the world the population of the United States is becoming older, on the average, the cost of living and incomes of that older generation is of prime importance to various industries.

About 21 percent of the elderly population live at or below the poverty level, while 30 percent live with an income level "not too much over that," according to Charlotte Heard, executive director of the Oklahoma Areawide Aging Agency.

The agency serves the elderly in a four-county area consisting of Logan, Canadian, Cleveland and Oklahoma counties, said Heard.

While no direct figures on the cost of living for those 65 and older were available, Heard said most are on fixed incomes and "when they have fixed costs, they have difficulty in getting by if they have unusual medical expenses," a spectre haunting most elderly.

"The cost of living has been stable in the last few years," she said, "but we hear now that it's beginning to go back up a little, which affects middle income people because there's no way for these people to increase their income" to deal with higher costs.

That means that more people over 65, who are able, are attempting to find a place in the general workforce, but that leads to problems because "there's still kind of a reluctance to hire older people, although it's beginning to change," Heard said.

Ways to cut costs for the elderly are part of the main mission of the Areawide Aging Agency, which itself attempts to monitor state laws affecting the elderly, coordinate programs for the older citizens and help other programs avoid duplicating services.

Most people are aware of the various discounts senior citizens receive - anything from prescription drugs to movie tickets to riding on the city's buses is offered at a discount - to allow senior citizens to keep costs down. …

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