Sioux Falls event considers income needs of SD elderlySIOUX FALLS — Older adults in South Dakota expressed their frustration over poor access to jobs at a public Sioux Falls meeting on Wednesday that highlighted the challenges the elderly face in getting enough money for basic needs.
By: VERONICA ZARAGOVIA, The Daily Republic
SIOUX FALLS — Older adults in South Dakota expressed their frustration over poor access to jobs at a public Sioux Falls meeting on Wednesday that highlighted the challenges the elderly face in getting enough money for basic needs.
At the event, Wider Opportunities for Women, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, presented its Elder Economic Security Standard Index for South Dakota, which measures the income older adults need in order to live independently and meet their daily living costs. It also ranks states and Washington, D.C., according to each one’s shortfalls between income and necessary expenses, like housing, food and transportation.
Wider Opportunities for Women worked with the Gerontology Institute of the University of Massachusetts Boston to complete the index.
The advocacy group said these data help policymakers, caregivers, service providers and advocates learn about the challenges faced by this population group, many of whom said they face age discrimination at the discussion at the Sioux Falls Main Library.
Maggie Flowers, a director at Wider Opportunities for Women, said many elderly who don’t live below the $10,890 poverty line, as set by the federal government, still have trouble meeting basic needs even without spending on “frills” like going out for coffee or taking a grandchild to the movies.
People at the meeting said Social Security doesn’t give them enough to live on.
Marie Beaver, 71, said because she doesn’t get a pension, she works for minimum wage in credentialing at Volunteers for America, Dakotas.
Darrel Grimm, 65, said he struggles stretching his disability dollars. “Gas and food are the hardest for me,” Grimm said.
Beaver and Grimm get help from Experience Works, a partner of Wider Opportunities for Women that helps low-income people get job training and placement.
Experience Works also helps participants overcome barriers like poor dental health or bus pass needs.
“If it’s so bad that it’s prohibitive to employment, we’ve helped with that,” Jean Bennett, Experience Works regional director, said. On occasion the organization has provided eyeglasses, steel toed shoes, interview outfits or clothing to its participants. “We want to help those who really need it,” Bennett added.