An interesting new study on a demographic of aging men who will soon be in their sixties. Our hospice in Baton Rouge served many homeless individuals over the years, finding public meeting places like libraries and McDonald’s for nurses’ visits, working with the individual to tap into any support people possible, a pastor or friend, who might act as a second pair of eyes and ears. The persistence of homelessness struck me as quite powerful.
“Culhane says many of the chronic homeless are young baby boomers who came of age during the back-to-back recessions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Older baby boomers had taken the best, highest-paying jobs, and housing supply was tightening, he says.
Unable to find work, some of the homeless got involved in the growing underground drug market, in particular crack cocaine. Many ended up in prison, where they became estranged from their families, he says. Others would spend the rest of their lives cycling between unemployment and occasional stints in menial, low-paying jobs.
The combination of substance abuse, loss of family support and economic displacement became defining factors that affected those men the rest of their lives. The impact, Culhane says, has implications both for their own lives and for society.
In an academic paper written this month, Culhane and four of his colleagues contend that the homeless in this age group have been the mainstay of the single adult homeless population since the 1980s and “will soon fade into history but not before medical issues related to aging ensures that they will have one last profound impact on the social welfare system.”
As the men continue to age and suffer poor health, managing their chronic diseases will become increasingly problematic over the next 15 years until the men reach age 64, the average life span of the chronically homeless. While continuing to treat them in homeless shelters is not a realistic solution, there are few other options besides expensive hospital and nursing home care.
No community has yet to figure out a strategy for dealing with this demographic wave, Culhane says.
“Everyone is struggling with this issue,” he says.” Read more…