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A lot of older Massachusetts residents can’t make ends meet: UMass report

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‘Invisible’ problem

Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/

Just over 61 percent of single Massachusetts residents who are at least 65 years old can’t afford food, housing, or other living expenses, according to an analysis from the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

That is the second-highest proportion in the nation, behind Mississippi at 63.7 percent (and just ahead of New York at 60.4 percent).

Among Massachusetts couples 65 and older, 29.1 percent don’t have enough to afford the basics, including housing, according to the UMass-Boston study. That’s the ninth-highest proportion nationally (Mississippi is again No. 1 there, with 34.2 percent).

The situation is particularly acute among older women and minorities. In Boston, for instance, 72 percent of single women living alone don’t have enough to cover expenses compared with 61 percent of single men.

These challenges are “largely invisible in a state brimming with high-tech successes and a building boom,” according to the Globe’s Katie Johnston. And they show no signs of abating as Massachusetts’ elderly population grows and the state’s cost of living remains high—and, by many measures, is getting higher.

Plus, a lot of older residents simply don’t qualify for public assistance; and private pensions sometimes disappear in retirement.