What are some of the “brutal” hardships that seniors are enduring in a tough economy? According to the wine-and-cheese crowd at the New York Times, it is that some seniors are being forced to consume more — err — wine and cheese.  Here, in the words of the Times reporter Catherine Rampell, is the predicament of a 62-year-old, Cleveland-based, freelance writer, Susan Zimmerman:

None of the three part-time jobs she has cobbled together pay benefits, and she says she is counting the days until she becomes eligible for Medicare.

In the meantime, Ms. Zimmerman has fashioned her own regimen of home remedies — including eating blue cheese instead of taking penicillin and consuming plenty of orange juice, red wine, coffee and whatever else the latest longevity studies recommend — to maintain her health, which she must do if she wants to continue paying the bills.

Setting aside the unpleasant side effect on one’s waistline of blue cheese, a quick Google search suggests that a 60-cap bottle of penicillin (enough for several infections) for the uninsured costs $28 or 50 cents a pill — less if it’s reimported from a foreign country. Maybe Cleveland is different, but in most places a daily dose of wine and cheese would cost a lot more. Would someone let Ms. Rampell know?

(Do we really need The Onion when The Times does such a good job of self-parody?)