Pam Dahlhauser lived in Bozeman, Montana, for 10 years. She was forced to move as housing prices skyrocketed.
“Our apartment that we were renting for $1,400 dollars a month went to $3,100 a month. You’re on a fixed income. You only get so much," she said.
In the past decade, the number of Americans age 60 and up increased by 34%. They’re facing rising costs of food, medicine, and housing.
Ron Johnson said he lives in the house his father-in-law built in 1950.
“He bought the two lots and built the house for ten grand," Johnson said. "And now I pay more than that in taxes and insurance.”
The poverty rate among seniors is a third of what it was in the 1960s. But because there are so many more seniors, in general, the number in poverty has gone up, especially in the last decade.
“When you’re younger, you can get another part-time job, or you could get roommates. But when you're 80, why would you want roommates,” said Kristi Wetsch, director at the Bozeman Senior Center. “The seniors are proud also. That's very hard to say, ‘I want free food.’ It's not a generation that wants freebies. It's a generation that's used to working.”
Nearly half of America’s seniors rely entirely on their monthly Social Security checks, typically below $2,000.
In times of peaking inflation and ever-rising costs of medicine and housing, it can weigh on the minds of those already grappling with so much.
“Some people take a fall, or they get a stroke. They don't want to call an ambulance because they don't have the money to pay for that ambulance,” JoAnn Wood said.
In this space, they find community. Maybe it’s why, on this day, Ron, Pam, and JoAnn chose to share their stories. Maybe it’s why most people do. Because in their hearts, they believe the stories they share are shared by many like them who desire to be heard.