Monday, September 18, 2017

Homeless and Old (Research, Video 3:25)

Older homeless adults have high rates of geriatric conditions which may increase their risk for acute care and nursing home placement. In research interviews of 350 homeless adults 50 and older in Oakland, CA, the following results revealed their living environment over a 6-month period:

1) Participants stayed in 4 primary environments: unsheltered locations, multiple locations including shelters and hotels, intermittently with family/friends, and, in a recently homeless group, rental housing.

2) Overall, 38.9% of participants reported difficulty performing 1 or more activities of daily living, 33.7% reported falls in the previous 6 months, 25.8% had cognitive impairment, 45.1% had vision impairment, and 48.0% screened positive for urinary incontinence. The prevalence of geriatric conditions did not differ significantly across living environments.

The prevalence of these conditions was higher than that seen in housed adults 20 years older. Clearly, services addressing geriatric conditions are needed for older homeless adults living across varied environments

My Detroit Pk-8th grade school where I was principal had the highest student homeless population in Michigan. I have visited a well-run homeless shelter before. Unfortunately, the large homeless shelter where I visited regularly that housed several of my students had unacceptable conditions on many levels. Those conditions, along with having to follow certain rules, are major reasons why many homeless adults refuse to stay in shelters. Substance abuse was high. My primary focus was on getting the children out to school and meeting their needs there. On the day the shelter was permanently closed due to poor food and other conditions, there were several emergency units transporting victims of food poisoning to the hospital.

The following video gives a disturbing review of conditions in some homeless shelters in New York City. Possible solutions are also discussed.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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