Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How well do you compare

 A report called Living below the line, Economic Insecurity and Older Americans, Insecurity in the States Published in September 2016 by Jan E. Mutchler, Yang Li, and Ping Xu, looked at costs faced by seniors over the age of 65.

The Elder Economic Security Standard IndexTM (Elder Index) measures the costs faced by households that include one or two older adults age 65 or older living independently. Developed by the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Wider Opportunities for Women, and maintained through a partnership with the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the Elder Index defines economic security as the income level at which elders are able to cover basic and necessary living expenses and age in their homes, without relying on benefit programs, loans or gifts.

The Elder Index is calculated for every county in the United States; statewide and national averages are also generated. Elder Index expenses include housing, food, transportation, health care, and basic household items including clothing, a telephone, hygiene and cleaning supplies.

The Elder Index is a basic budget, allowing no vacations, restaurant meals, savings, large purchases, gifts or entertainment of any kind.

The 2016 Elder Index for the United State for older adults living in their own homes without a mortgage, the Elder Index is $20,064 annually for an older adult living alone, and $30,576 for an older couple living together.

Estimated costs are higher for renters ($23,364 for singles and $33,876 for couples) and for those who are paying off a mortgage ($30,972 for singles and $41,484 for couples

According to the report half of older adults living alone, and one out of four older adults living in two-elder households, lack the financial resources required to pay for basic needs.

National averages suggest that 53% of older adults living alone, and 26% of older adults living in elder couple households (with an older spouse, partner, or some other older adult), have annual incomes below the Elder Index value.

In every state, more than four out of ten elder singles are at risk of being unable to afford basic needs and age in their own homes.

If you want to see the figures for your state, the full report is here. The numbers for each state start on page 5

As the older adult population grows, the federal government and each state must learn to recognize the economic security gap and those who fall into it. They must also consider whether or not policies contribute to the economic security of older adults living above the poverty line, as they require services and supports beyond emergency aid that contributes to intermediate- and long-term stability goals. Helping all older adults reach economic security is the goal to which elders and those who represent and serve them should aspire.

The report does not offer any solutions to the problem but they do say at the end of the report

Protecting Social Security benefits is essential for older adults, including not only those who are poor but also for those “in the gap,” more than half of whom rely on those benefits for a large majority of their incomes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Can you guess what women could not do in the US in 1960?

There are 45 questions on this little quiz, and there are some surprises. I got 80%, which made me realize that I had no idea what Boomer women went through in the US. Take the quiz to see how much you know about how far the US  had come.

The quiz is here:  

Can you guess what women could not do in 1960 in the US?

Hunger Awareness Week

This week is Hunger Awareness Week in Canada, and so I am providing a bit of background of it and asking again for people to support their local food banks.

In March 2016, 863,492 people received food from a food bank in Canada. This is 1.3% higher than the same period in 2015, and 28% higher than in 2008.  Of the more than 800,000 people 36%are children and youth, this was 28% higher than 2008. 8 of 10 provinces saw an increase

Too many Canadians do not have enough income to pay for rent, bills, clothing for growing children, transportation, medication – and food. Food is unfortunately one of the most flexible household expenses, and it is often nutrition that suffers when money is tight

Food banks come to the aid of a diverse range of people who do not have enough income to cover food. More than one-third of individuals helped are children and youth, and more than 40% of households receiving food are families with children. Single people living alone – who face a very high risk of living in poverty – have grown as a proportion of households helped.

A large number of households accessing food banks are on some form of government assistance, including pension, disability-related income supports, and welfare – a stark indication of the very low level of support provided by these programs. On the other side of the coin, nearly one in six households helped are working, yet still need a food bank to make ends meet

The Hunger Count study has been performed annually since 1999, when 718,292 people were helped by a still-growing network in March of that year. Exactly ten years later, near the peak of the 2008-2009 recession, 794,738 Canadians were assisted by a more mature, organized, and diverse network. Now, seven years since the end of the economic downturn, food bank use continues its elevated post recession plateau. Today, 188,000 more people need help each month than in 2008.

Hunger Awareness Week is a growing movement to raise awareness about the solvable problem of hunger in Canada. Food banks across the country host events during Hunger Awareness Week to tell the story of the work they do and the stories of the hungry Canadians who use food banks.

Since the first annual Hunger Count report, other national food bank networks have sprung up to join those in North America. These networks exist in Australia, New Zealand, 24 countries in Europe, and across South America. Each of them exists for one overarching reason: to help our most vulnerable citizens make it through the hard times caused by a lack of well-paying jobs and inadequate government supports.

Who uses a food bank?
Hundreds of thousands of Canadians who live in cities, towns and villages, in the country and in your neighbourhood use food banks because they do not have enough money to feed themselves or their families. Children. Seniors. People with disabilities. People who have jobs and still can’t make ends meet. As you can see from the chart below the biggest percentage of Canadians who use the food bank are parents with children.

AGE In years
0 - 2
3 - 5
6 - 11
12 - 17
18 - 30
31 - 44
% of Canadian Population
% of people helped by food Banks

In Canada, the percentage of those between the ages of 45-65 and 65+ are less than those helped by the food bank. The 45-64 year are 28% of the Canadian population while only 22.7 percent are helped by foodbanks. Those who are 65+ are 16.1 percent of the population yet only 5.3% are helped by food banks

Hunger in Canada exists because deep and persistent poverty continues in the country. For more than a decade, diverse and inter-related factors have sustained this situation: a labour market that fails to provide enough jobs with stable, livable wages; a rise in precarious and non-standard employment; a fraying income security system that does not provide sufficient financial support for those in need; a lack of affordable, social housing; and accessible and affordable child care. People living in poverty cannot afford sufficient, nutritious food. Many turn to food banks to help them meet this most basic need.

Hunger in Canada can be alleviated. Everyone can play a part in reducing hunger. You can volunteer at the local food bank, donate food and funds, approach local representatives, join local Hunger Awareness Week activities and events, spread the word at various milieus (work place, faith groups, schools, etc

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hilda's Yard

Metro Theater is one of the many amateur theater companies in the Lower Mainland of BC and it is, in my opinion, a hidden gem. This is the 55th season of Metro Theater and they have an outstanding lineup of plays for this year.

The first play of the season is one that my wife and I went to on Saturday night. The play was called Hilda's Yard. Set in 1956, it follows the Fluck family through one extraordinary day during which their son loses his job and moves back home, their daughter leaves her husband and moves back home and Sam Fluck, thinking that he and his wife Hilda are empty nesters now and can start to live their OWN lives, buys their first television set.

The generation gap between the parents and the children is large and what may seem like far out ideas to the parents are reasonable to the new generation. The contrast between generations and the difficulties in seeing a situation in someone else’s shoes, especially when your values are set in stone is a major theme in the play.

Hilda’s Yard is chock-full of Foster’s well-known humour, even as it delves into the depths of the serious issues of Gary’s post-traumatic stress disorder and Janey’s spousal abuse. The contradictions inherent in the quirky characters lead to many fine comedic moments.

In the end, despite the challenges of the day, ties of love, family, and friendship prevail and we come to understand a uniquely Canadian look at family dynamics, which really don't really change much over the years.

The play was fun to watch, the actor who plays Hilda fills the stage with her presence and I had no problem believing that she ruled the household. She could be very intimidating to her family and to her guests, one invited to dinner by her son and one not invited by her son. The uninvited guest is a small-time bookie who is trying to collect a debt from Hilda's son.

The actor who plays the father did a good job of convincing us that he was a nice guy, who was celebrating his new found "freedom" from his kids. However, in a scene with his daughter he showed the dark side of male attitudes in the 50's. He did in the final scene redeem himself and again showed that he was really a nice man.

I enjoyed the production and if you are in the Vancouver Area I really recommend that you go see it. Metro prices are very low and I understand that this play was on Groupon so the ticket price is even lower. However, be warned the number of tickets left on Groupon is limited. Without a discount, a ticket will only set you back $25.00 or if you are a senior tickets are only $22.00. One of the best deals in town.