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Pasadena Seniors Living on Fixed Income Worried Over Economic Insecurity Across Country, Say Local Experts

Published on Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 5:13 am

Inflation in the United States is at a 40-year high and consumers, especially those with low- or fixed-income, are disproportionately affected by the impact whether at the grocery, the drug store or at the gas station.

In Pasadena, seniors with fixed income are growing more anxious due to the soaring food and rental costs amid skyrocketing inflation, according to Susan Kujawa, President of the Board of Directors at Pasadena Village, a community of older adults from greater Pasadena. 

“They’re concerned. I think even seniors, even adults who are older, who have money saved for retirement [are] dependent on the stock market. So they’re worried about that. And they see prices up for everything — medicine, doctor’s appointments. So they’re worried.” 

Kujawa also said that seniors living on fixed incomes are having a tough time adjusting to rapidly rising costs for consumer goods and services. 

The “Elder Index” which measures how much income seniors need monthly to cover their expenses while living independently revealed that a senior who is renting a home needs $2,258 monthly income or $27,096 per year for housing, food, health care and other expenses. 

A senior who owns a home without a mortgage needs $22,476 annually, while those who owns a home with a mortgage needs $34,104 income annually for all their expenses.

Kujawa said the increasing rental prices in Pasadena is squeezing seniors. 

“Besides rent it’s the cost of food,” she said. “Everybody has a story to tell about going to the market and finding out how much eggs cost or produce costs. They’re just surprised.” 

Elderly Skimp on Medicine for Food, Rent

Akila Gibbs, Executive Director at Pasadena Senior Center, a donor-supported organization which provides athletic games, dance and language classes and social services activities for seniors in Pasadena, said the rising cost of living is the number one issue that seniors in Pasadena face today. 

The Pasadena Senior Center has seen a recent uptick in the number of seniors in need of food, housing and other services, Gibbs said. 

“With increased inflation, what we have seen is an increase in people needing food,” Gibbs said. “Housing has always been a problem and we’ve seen an uptick with older adults just desperately trying to find housing.” 

According to the Homeless Count published earlier this year, 512 people are experiencing homelesness in Pasadena. The number reveals a continued leveling off of the average number of people who are unhoused on a given night over the past three years. 

According to Gibbs, older adults are the largest group of unsheltered people in the city to date and the number is growing exponentially.

“The price of housing is astronomical. So housing and transportation are the first two things the seniors most need,” said Gibbs.“I think a one bedroom apartment is like $1,800. So an older adult on a fixed income cannot afford that.”

To be able to pay for food and rent, Gibbs said seniors often skimp on their medications.

“We’ve seen people trying to divide their medication in order to pay rent or to buy more food. So we’ve seen more of that.” 

To learn about the programs and services available for seniors in the city, visit Pasadena Village and Pasadena Senior Center’s websites using the links below:

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