Struggle for Senior Citizens

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Posted Thu, Oct 31, 2013

Dorothy Crocker (right), Pam Ricky (left); they live at Denver Metro Village. Dorothy says, "You better enjoy your youth because before you know it you will be relying on someone else to take care of you."

Dorothy Crocker (right), Pam Ricky (left); they live at Denver Metro Village. Dorothy says, “You better enjoy your youth because before you know it you will be relying on someone else to take care of you.”

DENVER-Citizens work every day in hopes of retiring and spending their “golden years” traveling or relaxing. In today’s society senior citizens are struggling to get by, and have to work as they get older.  Many seniors are having a tough time living comfortably and freely as they age.

Most people have the belief that when they retire their mortgages and debt will be paid.  That isn’t the case for senior citizens today.  Senior citizens over the age of 65 have mounting debt, and it continues until they can no longer afford their homes and have to live in low-income places or retirement homes.

Denver Metro Village is a low-income apartment building that houses over 200 senior citizens.  These residents have had trouble in their older age with money.  Some of the residents have lost their loved ones; others don’t get enough Social Security to live anywhere else.  The average Social Security income for a retired senior citizen is $1,200 a month, but most of the 200 seniors at Metro Village collect much less than that.  After medical expenses and rent, there isn’t much left over to live off.

This is an ongoing problem for many people, and there is no clear way to fix the issues.  Many of the residents are happy because they aren’t homeless, but have to sacrifice living the rest of their lives in peace.  They are limited on what they can do outside of their apartments because of lack of income.  Most have dreams of traveling and having privacy, but life had other plans for them.

“I had a good life,” says Metro Village resident Betty Jackson, “but when my family starting passing away, I couldn’t afford taking care of myself and this was the only place I could go. I would prefer to have my privacy and my old life back, but instead I am surrounded by people all day and it is really uncomfortable.”

Jackson is a sketcher and will sketch anyone that asks her to for free.  She does a great job, but wishes she could make money doing it.  Jackson collects $500 a month from Social Security and lives off food stamps.  Her husband was the breadwinner and when he passed away, she had nothing to her name.

The apartments are between 500 square ft. and 700 square ft. and range from $300-$800 per month, depending on income level.  The apartment also houses Social Service workers to help any senior with any issues they may be having.  Since it is low-income, many residents have some mental issues, or just need help qualifying for government aid.

Denver Metro Village off Colfax and Quitman.  Home to over 200 low income residents.

Denver Metro Village off Colfax and Quitman. Home to over 200 low income residents.

“I have only lived here three days and am excited they took me in,” says Metro Village’s newest resident Becky Rosford.  “But it is eye-opening to have to rely on others to help me live my life.”

Rosford’s husband passed away four years ago, and after losing her home she had to move in with her daughter.  She felt like she was imposing on her daughter and found Denver Metro Village.

“I don’t want to complain,” Rosford says,  “but it’s very hard to see myself go from a nice home with privacy to living in tight quarters with other senior citizens.”

Although Denver Metro Village is a low-income facility, it is a better place for senior citizens to live than a retirement home.  They encourage independent living and taking care of themselves.  The social workers at Denver Metro Village say that the residents statistically live longer than those at a retirement home.

“We are here to encourage them to live independently and take care of themselves,” says social service worker Jamal Schnider.  “In a retirement home, they will do everything for them and they will lose focus on how to live their own lives.”

Denver Metro Village offers classes to educate senior citizens about their benefits, Medicaid and skills to keep themselves healthy.  There are also classes hosted by the social workers that offer a form of escape from daily life such as hypnosis and relaxation classes.  Even though some residents aren’t used to the change of lifestyle, they are interactive and not just laying around all day.  It is much better for them to stay active and pay their own bills and live independently.

Being independent is important for senior citizens to live a long and healthy life.  The reality of life as senior citizens is losing loved ones, having to leave your home and depending on government money to pay bills.  One way to stay encouraged is to know that there are many others out there that are in the same boat.

Betty Jackson holding a sketch she had just finished in an hour.

Betty Jackson holding a sketch she had just finished in an hour.

  • Deteriorating health, malnutrition, lack of shelter, fear, depression, senility, isolation, boredom, non-productivity and financial incapacity are the most common problems that senior citizens all over the world face today
  • Possessing sustainable financial capacity before, during, and after the inception of a senior status is both a basic problem and an elusive dream for most people
  • The average debt held by senior citizens has ballooned to $50,000 in 2010, up 83 percent since 2001, according to Federal Reserve data crunched by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
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About Jessica Culey

Jessica Culey is a Denver-area freelance writer.

View all posts by Jessica Culey

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