To Aging Today:
Your headline "Will Shift to 'Successful Aging' Include Low-Income Elders?" (September-October 2007) caught my attention because our 2,400 primarily low-income elder constituents have been offered access to most aspects of successful aging for some years. The mandate of our organization, EngAGE: The Art of Active Aging (formerly known as More Than Shelter for Seniors), is to support elders' independence. Recent research on aging informs the services we provide to the generations preceding baby boomers. Work, as an interface with an ageist society, provides one of our greatest challenges. I wish to add our experience to the discussion in the article.
The forced choice between food and medications at the end of many months makes the issue of additional sources of income urgent. The scarcity of work opportunities is compounded by the following:
* A result of having low income is often a feeling of having nothing to offer: Self-efficacy grounded in career may not extend to women who were primarily homemakers, to elders who have not completed high school, and to those who do not speak English or whose work was low paying and exhausting as they struggled to support their families.
* These elders may not want to-or may not be able to-resume work.
* Volunteering may be viewed as work without pay.
Our view is that it is unreasonable to expect seniors to become engaged in our programs, or volunteer, or job hunt if they feel unwell and hungry. …