Brittany M. Lenander
Population Based Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Practicum
University of South Dakota RN-BSN Program
Professor Allison Heitmann
The Homeless Elderly Population: Sioux Falls, SD
General Health Status
Individual and family. Individuals and families thrive off from the support of the people around them. But, in some cases having a poor structural support system and limited resources to support themselves can eventually lead an individual into homelessness.
Homelessness in older adults is the result of both the accumulation of individual risk factors over their life course as well as poor structural support and social welfare programs that either fail to intervene in time or are inadequate to deal with the particular individual risk factors or lack of structural support (Dunn & Brown, 2008).
With limited amounts of affordable resources like shelter, food, and healthcare, we have an increase amount of poverty and homelessness among our older population.
Population: Vital statistics. “There is roughly a million homeless in the United States and 2-3% are over 65. Since those over 65 are 12-13% of the total population and 15% of the poverty population, the elderly are underrepresented among the homeless” (Wright, 2005). Here in Sioux Falls, SD, “there are approximately 618 homeless individuals who are homeless and of those people 218 are children” (Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, 2013). When comparing the statistics, Sioux Falls has a relatively small homeless population compared the national average.
Population: Morbidity. In order to get appropriate healthcare, individuals need to have access and the funds to go to clinics and hospitals in the time of need. But due to homeless individual’s circumstances, they are sometimes unable to get appropriate healthcare or medications in order to stay healthy. “The homeless have a higher rate of ill health than their housed counterparts, with a reported prevalence of physical illness ranging from 33-55%, and they have an age-adjusted mortality rate 3 to 6 times higher than housed” (Savage, et al, 2006, p. 225). Falls Community Health in Sioux Falls provides health care needs to individuals who do not have insurance or simply cannot afford healthcare expenses. With this option in mind, elderly homeless and all other homeless and low income individuals can receive health care in order to prevent, and assist with any illness that may arise in their life time (City of Sioux Falls, 2012).
Population: Life-expectancy. Life expectancy of the homeless is reduced for many reasons like harsh living conditions, limited income to provide food, appropriate healthcare, and medication regimen to assist and prevent illness. “The homeless people may rarely survive to old age. Some half-dozen studies have now reported that the average age of death for various samples of homeless men is somewhere in the early 50s” (Wright, 2005, p.182). With this statistic in mind, it’s understandable why Sioux Falls has a limited number of elderly homeless. The life expectancy of one who does not have a safe place to call home or a job to support their basic physical and medical needs is limited due to these tough circumstances.
Population: Healthy life expectancy. “One specific approach to improving health protective behaviors in the homeless population has been the implementation of nurse-managed clinics specifically for the homeless. These clinics provide a