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Friday, September 6, 2013

Homelessness Is Especially Brutal for Seniors

This video wasn't meant to highlight the fact that homelessness among seniors is on the rise in this country but it does.  It is difficult to guess the ages of the seniors depicted here because living on the streets and in shelters causes premature aging.  While we typically define seniors as 65+, in the context of homeless seniors we are talking about those ages 50+.  

Homelessness is an especially brutal proposition for our elders because they experience increased vulnerability and health risks. Can you imagine living on the streets or in a shelter and also suffering from age-related health conditions like incontinence, diabetes, severe arthritis, loss of balance, dementia or Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease, and vision or hearing impairment?  Can you imagine needing daily medications that you cannot afford, retain, or house?  

According to Dr. Tom Byrne, a research assistant professor in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, about 28% of all homeless adults were age 50 or older in 2011.  That is up from 23% in 2007.  The number is expected to continue to rise as the baby boomers age given the difficult economy and the effects of yesteryear's recession on retirements, pensions and savings.  

Solutions are multifaceted.  To learn more about long-term solutions, visit the Homelessness Resource Center.  To volunteer for the Good Neighbors Picnic in Columbus, Ohio on September 28th, click here.