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Elderly Face Soaring Prices Amid Economic Slump

Among Americans hit hard by the country's economic downturn are senior citizens, who are struggling to pay energy and food bills and reeling from cuts to community services due to budget constraints. Tom Bearden reports from Denver.

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  • TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour Correspondent:

    For seniors like 76-year-old Mary Exon, the downturn in the economy has been particularly tough. Living on a fixed income, Mary and her husband, Bob Exon, were struggling to pay for the rising costs of utilities, fuel and food.

  • MARY EXON, Senior Citizen:

    Just trying to have enough money to pay the monthly bills was a problem.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Then last year, Bob Exon was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Even though the Exon's health insurance covered most of the medical bills, the illness brought new expenses, and quickly the couple found themselves in a financial freefall.

  • MARY EXON:

    All that adds up, doctor visits and prescriptions. And so it's difficult when you're on a fixed income to be able to pay everything.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Mary and her husband, who died last month, took out eight new credit cards and ended up $35,000 in debt before finally filing for bankruptcy last fall.

  • MARY EXON:

    The credit cards, they would say so much cash available, and so I was using that just to help pay monthly bills. And then you can't pay them, and it snowballs. And you just — there's no way you can keep up with it, so I knew I had to do something.