The 5 Biggest Challenges Facing American Seniors Today

May 18, 2023

Elderly man and woman using a cell phone

Our world presents challenges of varying difficulty for low to moderate-income seniors. From navigating loneliness to tackling financial challenges, there’s no shortage of issues facing America’s elderly. So, today we’re sharing some of the most common challenges senior citizens face and how to help.

Challenge 1: Facing Lower Income and Higher Costs of Housing

As the cost of housing continues to rise, many seniors, especially those who live on fixed incomes, are finding it challenging to live on their own or to find affordable housing that offers the support they need to live as independently and comfortably as possible. The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that many seniors have not engaged in the housing market in years, perhaps decades, and things have changed in that time. They need help that ensures they don’t get taken advantage of as they move through the home buying or selling process. And while government-level support exists for issues like those, seniors may need assistance in finding and accessing housing programs. And the financial challenges seniors face don’t end there.

Elderly woman reviews a set of documents

Challenge 2: Navigating Finances in a Difficult Market

Inflation and income disparities also present a financial challenge for our older loved ones and neighbors. Not only do items for daily living cost more, but many seniors also live on restricted incomes that don’t always reflect inflation’s impact on their expenses. Forbes explains that the current social security benefit for a retiree is just above $1,600 a month. This means that a large swath of our nation’s elderly are living on less than $20,000 a year. Given the cost of groceries and utilities at present, this is not simply a challenge for older adults, it is a matter of their daily health, housing, nutrition, and quality of life. Further, research from The Health Affairs Journal suggests that by 2029, “Most middle-income seniors will not have the financial resources required to pay for private senior housing options, as they exist today.” As these financial challenges continue to arise, a sense of financial literacy is needed to fully understand and tackle the issues that present themselves. So, seniors may need or seek financial guidance. And when they do, they must get information they can trust from sources they can rely on. They’ll also benefit from other types of support as they face one of the other key challenges like those related to social isolation.

Challenge 3: Experiencing Social Isolation and Mental Health Challenges

Social isolation is becoming a more and more recognized challenge for our community’s seniors. We are beginning to understand that seniors who experience prolonged isolation can face a barrage of mental health issues either in tandem or as a result of that isolation. And sadly, about one in three older adults experience these feelings of loneliness and isolation according to research from the University of Michigan which recently explored this challenge in great detail. From depression to lethargy and even anxiety, our elderly friends and neighbors often have an invisible weight on their shoulders that only they can feel. And loneliness only amplifies that weight. But according to an article published by Harvard Medical School, social interaction can have many health benefits including a lower risk of depression, a longer life span, higher levels of physical activity, and a more positive mood overall. So, there’s substantial value in bringing seniors into greater connection with their community.

Elderly person in glasses using a laptop

Challenge 4: Accessing Supportive Resources Online

These days, most helpful resources are available online. While this makes getting details on relevant programs easier than ever for most, it can make that same access challenging for seniors who find themselves far less tech-savvy, financially disadvantaged, or simply without the proper hardware and internet access. As the world becomes more and more internet-dependent, it will be vital to keep seniors apprised of and connected to resources that serve them in their golden years.

Challenge 5: Navigating Complex Paths to Government Assistance

The system surrounding government assistance can be overwhelming and confusing for many. While the program benefits can make a world of difference, many seniors may find themselves giving up before they start, or somewhere along the way, because it simply becomes too much or feels overly complicated. In fact, The Chief Customer Officer at the National Council on Aging told CNN that billions of dollars in benefits remain unused each year because older adults either don’t know they exist or find the process of obtaining those benefits too complex.

Family helps grandparents use computer

Change the Lives of Seniors in Your Community

At Housing with Hope, we are on a mission to support our community’s seniors and do all we can to ensure seniors can access the programs that will serve them best. We also provide programs to enhance the impact of such support on the elderly in our community. If you’d like to join our Housing with Hope mission to help seniors thrive in their golden years, we encourage you to make a donation, which can be done by clicking here. Any and all contributions are greatly appreciated, and vital to improving the lives of seniors throughout our New Jersey communities. And to keep a finger on the pulse of what Housing with Hope is doing, sign up for our newsletter here.