How Rising Food Prices Weigh on Seniors

“Food, for many older adults, is a way to bring family to you, and if you cannot afford it, you’re either not going to do it or you’re going to have less food for yourself later in the week because you value that interaction so highly.”

Some who had avoided restaurants and crowds for much of the pandemic were eager to step out with friends for dinners, but those nights out became expensive.

“I started going out for lunches once or twice a week, but then the lunches turned into $20, and that’s a lot of money,” said Sharon Cohen, 73, who owned a communications business for decades. Instead, Ms. Cohen and her friends now go on walks, or have friends over for book club gatherings. Occasionally, she meets people at a local hub for an egg and bagel sandwich.

“As you get older, and especially after Covid,” she said, “it becomes really important to get out and be with people, even if it’s for a walk or a coffee.”

While Ms. Cohen and her husband, Jean-Henry Mathurin, 80, have retirement savings plans from their employers, they are trying to save that money in case one or both of them need to stay at a health care facility at some point. In the meantime, they’re trying to pay their bills, including repairs and upkeep on their 300-year-old home in Newtown, Conn.

To stretch their Social Security checks, Ms. Cohen and her husband have looked for ways to cut costs. They have turned down the heat and reduced their phone bills. She buys less beef and purchases her favorite Late July chips only when they are on sale. And even though Ms. Cohen loves scallops, she eschews them for less expensive seafood like flounder and cod fillets.

“And we’ve probably eaten more tuna fish in the past year than we ever have,” she said, laughing.

But after two bouts with cancer in the past five years, Ms. Cohen said she was also conscious about eating healthy.