The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews' annual survey examining the elderly in winter 2016 has come to worrying conclusions.
According to the survey, nearly a fifth (18 percent) of senior citizens do not heat their homes due to the cost; one in every six (16 percent) give up other basic needs in order to afford the cost of heating.
The poll, which was carried out by the Geocartogaphy Institute, questioned 400 people aged 65 or older.
It further found that every tenth senior (12 percent) is forced to give up on using hot water at least three days per week for financial reasons. One in seven do not purchase food out of the same concern, one in ten avoid going to doctors or purchasing drugs, and one in seven feels lonely in their everyday life.
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein says that "The severe plight of the elderly in Israel is a social catastrophe that we must treat like any other emergency situation. For senior citizens to give up food, medicine, or heat can often be a death sentence.
"In this year's survey we see a notable improvement in seniors' ability to heat their homes due to the significant drop in electricity prices over the past two years, but for years there has been no improvement for those who forgo food or medicine. In the name of the tens of thousands of poor seniors that the Foundation treats throughout the year, we ask the Prime Minister and the Cabinet ministers to take immediate action to drastically improve the situation for the elderly and not to settle for mere cosmetic actions."
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews conducts the survey as part of its annual "warm friendship" project that includes distributing heating grants to 25,000 senior citizens in need of assistance in 100 communities throughout the country, at a cost of 8.75 million shekels ($2.2 million US). The recipients receive nursing allowances in addition to pension supplements.