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News briefs: December 2012

Forum to address hunger among older adults

Hunger affects all ages: Oregon ranks 10th among U.S. states with the hungriest adults ages 50 to 59, according to AARP Oregon, which is hosting a community forum that will call on the public to help find solutions to hunger among older adults.

“Hidden in Plain Sight: A Solutions Forum on Hunger and Oregonians Age 50+” will be held Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 8 a.m. to noon at the West End Building, 4101 Kruse Way in Lake Oswego. Refreshments will be served.

Guest speakers will discuss the health consequences of hunger and ideas for a new health care model; how to navigate through the system of resources; and review state and federal policies pertaining to hunger. Bring your ideas, leave with new community contacts and resource information, and help develop steps to make a difference in the lives of older adults.

Attendees are asked to bring a can of food to donate. Space is limited. Register online at bit.ly/ORhunger50Dec11. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 503-595-5501, ext. 308.

Study: Frail older adults could be 'food insufficient'

On a related note to hunger: A national study of older Americans shows those who have limited mobility and low physical activity — scientifically categorized as “frail” — are five times more likely to report that they often don’t have enough to eat, defined as “food insufficiency,” than older adults who were not frail.

The nationally representative study of more than 4,700 adults older than age 60 in the United States uses data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The results are online today in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Lead author Ellen Smit, an epidemiologist at Oregon State University's College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said food insufficiency occurs when people report that they sometimes or often do not have enough food to eat. Food-insufficient older adults have been shown to have poor dietary intake, nutritional status and health status.

“Although little is known about food insufficiency as it relates to frailty, conceivably we thought if food insufficiency is associated with poorer nutritional status, it may also be associated with physical functioning and frailty,” she said.

Frailty is a state of decreased physical functioning and a significant complication of aging that increases the risk for incident falls, fractures, disability, health care expenditures, and premature mortality. People in this study are diagnosed as frail when they meet two of the following criteria: slow walking, muscular weakness, exhaustion and low physical activity.

Frail people were older, less educated, at lower income levels, more likely to be female, more likely to be smokers, and less likely to be white than adults who were not frail. Frail people were also more likely to be either underweight or obese, while at the same time eating fewer calories than people who were not frail.

Volunteer to help others receive their tax refunds

Imagine helping return thousands of tax dollars to those in need. All it takes is volunteer time to work with beneficiaries through the highly regarded AARP Tax-Aide program supported by CASH Oregon.

Earlier this year, more than 375 volunteer tax preparers working on 17,000 returns in the three-county Portland area returned $20 million in federal taxes to taxpayers. Each volunteer on average placed $48,000 of tax refunds in the hands of lower income seniors, families and individuals.

The returns, which take advantage of Earned Income and Child tax credits, make a big difference to those helped. Their average income is less than $23,000, but the average refund is more than $1,100.

In partnership with CASH Oregon, AARP Tax-Aide prepares the returns for free, saving low-income taxpayers hundreds of dollars in preparation fees and helping them avoid high-interest loans advertised as “fast refunds.”

Working at 50 local tax preparation sites during flexible hours, volunteer CASH tax preparers are essential to the program’s success. The call for volunteers comes as CASH Oregon gets ready for the tax season starting in late January.

Volunteers receive free training on IRS-supported software. No experience is necessary. To learn more about volunteering, visit www.CASHOregon.org or call 503-243-7765.