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Older people are having to make cuts to their spending on food according to a leading charity for older people, which has just published the findings from research undertaken this year. Just under a million people aged over 65 are reportedly spending less on food in order to make ends meet. Over 150,000 older people are skipping meals because they cannot afford more food. The charity also reported a threefold increase in the volume of enquiries about using food banks in the period from March 2013 through to April 2014. Some are blaming the problem on the increased costs of food and fuel, and low incomes which do not rise in line with these increases.

Many people say they have to shop late in the day so that they can take advantage of the discounted prices applied to products at that time. They are also more inclined to visit multiple shops so that they can get their shopping at the lowest cost possible. For older people who may have limited energy and mobility, this can make shopping very difficult. 

Others are turning to growing some of their own fruit and vegetables to save money on their food bill. Whilst growing your own may be perceived as a positive thing to do, it should ideally be born not of necessity but rather of choice, particularly where older people are concerned. It is also not an option for many older people who do not have a garden or allotment or do not enjoy good enough health for gardening. 

Reliance on food banks

A study conducted in 2013 for the Greater London Authority found that many older people who were patients at hospitals in less affluent parts of London such as Lewisham and Southwark, were malnourished when they were admitted to hospital. This has prompted calls to make London a zero hunger city. The increased reliance on food banks in the capital is mirrored in cities up and down the country, with many older people forced to rely on food banks to supplement the food they can afford to buy.

Food poverty among older people is an issue which needs to be addressed urgently. Even from an economic perspective it makes sense, as malnutrition leads to expensive healthcare costs. For now, older people who are having difficulties making ends meet are being urged to check whether they are claiming all the benefits for which they are eligible. Every year millions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed, so it is crucial that people make sure they are receiving their full entitlement rather than missing out and struggling to find enough money to feed themselves. Details of benefits available to older people can be found at UK Advice Guide.

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