An elderly friend lives in New Mexico on a small social security check. But sun- seeking visitors run up rents in winter, and she is having difficulty despite buying food stamps. Is there anything she can do to supplement her income? M. G.
The elderly living at subsistence levels have been hurt more than any other group by inflation. Two possibilities may help your friend: (1) Since rents are rising and appear to be the major problem for her, she might look for shared housing. Either she could take in a companion to share the rent where she lives , or she could rent out her place during the winter months when visitors boost rates and share an apartment or house with a friend while contributing to the rent or housing costs. Sharing is often difficult for older persons with long-established habits or inflexible life styles, but more and more older persons are sharing housing to keep living costs in line with incomes; (2) supplemental security income (SSI), administered through social security, may provide more dollars if she meets eligibility requirements (maximum income and assets). She should contact the local SS office for more information if she has not already checked out this possibility.