Last Updated: July 24, 2019
The high cost of food is making it difficult for seniors to eat well across North America. Seniors in Canada in particular, especially those who live alone, are at an increased risk for health problems associated with poor nutrition.
Learn more about the cost and health benefits of senior living nutrition.
According to Statistics Canada, vegetable prices are up 18.2% and fresh fruit prices are up 12.9% compared to last year. Meat has also skyrocketed, up 6.6%. Overall, food inflation rates are predicted to rise between 2-4% in the coming years, resulting in an increase of approximately $345 per person according to The Food Price Report.
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The weak Canadian dollar is bearing most of the blame for increasing grocery bills — especially for fruits and vegetables that are imported. Global warming and unpredictable global weather patterns are also a factor. Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution and policy at the Food Institute at the University of Guelph recently told Global News that “Canada is actually the only industrialized country in the world currently, right now, with a food inflation rate of over 3%.”
According to CBC News, “while the increased costs have dealt a blow to everyone’s wallet, they have a more pronounced effect on Canadians living on a tight budget or in remote regions, where fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive than in more urban areas.” The increasing costs are hurting Canada’s seniors and other vulnerable groups the most. “When fruits and vegetables rise in price, it makes it more difficult for these groups to buy enough to get their daily fruit and vegetable intake,” CBC News reports.
“The wrong kind of food is cheap and the right kind of food is still expensive,” says Diana Bronson, the executive director of Food Secure Canada.
Canadian seniors living at or below the poverty line are relying more heavily on food banks to survive. Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada, told The Toronto Star that more Canadians are using food banks this year than last, with the number of users creeping up to 852,000 people.
Food banks have also noticed an increase in use by seniors on pensions, children and those living in the province of Alberta, Schmidt says.
Low to middle-income seniors are also negatively impacted by the rising grocery prices. “It becomes challenging for consumers to have access to affordable food,” Charlebois says. “What it means essentially, is they’re going to have to sacrifice something to be able to feed themselves.” For many, the sacrifice is meat. A study by The Food Institute found that 27.5% of respondents have been forced to look for alternate sources of protein and 37.9% have reduced or stopped consuming beef altogether.
Seniors living in retirement or senior living communities don’t have to worry about coping with the rising cost of groceries. With chef-inspired, healthy, nutritious meals included in their community fees, seniors living in retirement communities don’t have to cut out meat or give up cable or internet to afford the fresh fruits and vegetables which are critical to their diet.
“A senior’s nutrition can often suffer when aging in place [which] can negatively affect their health and healthcare costs,” says Jamison Gosselin, vice president of marketing, communications, and resident enrichment for Holiday Retirement.
Retirement communities provide “chef-prepared meals with a focus on seniors’ specific nutritional needs [to] help maintain their health,” Gosselin says.
How are you beating the rising costs of inflation? Share how you’re dealing with the health problems associated with poor senior living nutrition in the comments below.