Seniors Face Tough Times this Holiday Season; Home Instead Senior Care Network Offers 10 Money-Saving Tips

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The recent debt ceiling fight in Congress led to a national scare for the nation’s seniors, many of whom feared they would not get Social Security checks on time. That’s not the only concern that older adults have been facing. In 2011, for the second consecutive year, seniors received no Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). That could make for a bleak holiday for seniors across the country. As a result, the Home Instead Senior Care® network has announced money-saving tips to help older adults make ends meet.

senior decorating Christmas tree

In an effort to help older adults make the most of this holiday season, the Home Instead Senior Care network offers 10 money-saving tips

Seniors can talk to their pharmacist about ways to save money on medications.

Even though Congress increased the debt ceiling earlier this year, allowing older adults to get Social Security checks on time, seniors face financial challenges that could contribute to a bleak holiday.

In 2011, for the second consecutive year, seniors received no Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), according to the Annual Survey of Senior Costs from The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a senior advocacy organization. What’s more, seniors can expect to receive only a very small COLA next year, TSCL reported. Unfortunately, a downward trend is continuing for older adults. Since 2000, the COLA has increased just 31 percent, while typical senior expenses have jumped 73 percent, more than twice as fast, according to the survey.

“Cuts of essential items such as food and medication should be of immediate concern to seniors’ families,” said President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jeff Huber of Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network.

“Other reductions in spending can lead to less obvious issues. One of the biggest problems that we see is senior isolation, which has been magnified during this troubled time in the economy, especially considering the high price of gas,” he added.

In an effort to help older adults make the most of this holiday season, the Home Instead Senior Care network offers the following money-saving tips:

1.    Consider in-home care. The costs of home care are often lower than other living options for seniors who need help. However, seniors and their families typically over-estimate that cost, according to research conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network.

2.    Economize at mealtime. Look for affordable meal options such as Meals on Wheels® or a local senior center, which can offer both cost savings and opportunities for companionship.

3.    Get back to basics. While winter might not be a great time to garden in many parts of the country, container and potted gardens can be grown indoors year-round to deliver fresh herbs or even produce.

4.    Avoid convenience. While that might seem like a strange statement, convenience many times equates to increased cost, especially when it comes to food. Avoid convenience foods and watch for sales on fresh or canned fruits, vegetables and meats, which can be less expensive.

5.    Look for deals. It always pays to look for the best price, but no more so than with medications. Buy generic when possible. Contact a pharmacist about ways to save money on medications.

6.    Thrifting is thrifty. Just because money is tight doesn’t mean that family and friends need to go without a holiday gift. Look to thrift stores for affordable gifts. Or make presents. A grandchild likely would love a recipe box of favorite family recipes and the stories that go with those dishes. Scrapbooks always are popular as well.

7.    Carpooling makes sense. If it’s too cold to walk, contact others going in the same direction or to the same place and share costs.

8.    Save energy. Installing weather-stripping, caulking leaky doors and windows, and installing gaskets behind outlet covers can lead to cost savings.

9.    Decorate the natural way. Go green and save money. It’s amazing the beautiful holiday ornaments that can be created from pine cones and branches sprayed with silver, white or gold paint. Cranberry and popcorn garlands make pretty and affordable decorations as well.

10.    Look to the experts. Call a local Area Agency on Aging if the costs of food and gas have become prohibitive. For more information about programs and resources, contact the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Family caregivers can look to the Home Instead Senior Care network’s many online resources, such as the website, to help seniors and their loved ones cope during difficult times.


Founded in 1994 in Omaha by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world's largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors, with more than 900 independently owned and operated franchises providing in excess of 45 million hours of care throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Austria, Italy and Puerto Rico. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ more than 65,000 CAREGivers(SM) worldwide who provide basic support services – assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, incidental transportation and shopping – which enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while continuing to provide superior quality service that enhances the lives of seniors everywhere.


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Erin Albers
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