Inflation on older Americans: Expert answers viewer questions

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(NewsNation) — The International Monetary Fund is warning inflation is now a clear and present danger around the world.

Walt Rice, a NewsNation viewer from North Carolina, said he’s on a fixed income and realized he could no longer afford the basic necessities during his last trip to the store.

Dr. Regina Koepp, a board-certified psychologist specializing in treating older adults and families, joined “Morning in America” to answer his questions.

Q: I’m a widower, a disabled veteran, senior citizen, and on fixed income. After the last trip to the store, I realized that I can no longer afford the basic necessities of life. Given the background I just told you about, my income is probably higher than the average person in North Carolina, which is around $25,000 a year.

So I felt that if I was feeling this way, then other people are feeling this way. In short, people are just out there asking themselves, can I afford to live any longer?

I think the potential answers there, yes and no, and the no answer has real dire consequences attached to it. So this is something we shouldn’t be asking ourselves as, especially citizens of the United States.

So my question is what does the government and as individuals can we do to recognize this problem, address it, reach out to people that we think are suffering from this, and take some proactive measures? Because I think we’re being failed miserably as citizens of the United States.

Koepp said this issue speaks to food insecurity and, for older adults, concerns about how to afford medication, medical care and mental health care if they are struggling with mental health concerns.

“Even if they have Medicare and are using it, there are often co-pays and deductibles to meet. So that adds a layer of stress and anxiety and uncertainty,” Koepp said. “The insecurity of food, medication, like how will you pay for your medication, long-term housing — it adds a lot of stress and can increase the risk for depression.”

While Koepp said she couldn’t speak for the government, she suggests older adults visit eldercare.acl.gov and enter their ZIP code to find resources in their communities.

“These are all government-funded, supported, and those agencies know that best programs like Meals on Wheels, transportation programs, home health agencies, and so on,” Koepp explained.

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