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Institute for Aging Research study finds Boston's elderly homeless sicker than others
Date:9/13/2011

udgment).

According to previous studies, the average age of the homeless population in the United States is increasing. Nearly one-third of homeless adults in the U.S. today are over age 50, compared to 11 percent in the 1990s. In Boston, more than 7,000 men, women and children are homeless, according to the city's latest homeless census. Eighteen percent of homeless men in Boston and 15 percent of homeless women are older than 55. Despite this trend, little is known about geriatric syndromes among the growing elderly homeless population. The Institute for Aging Research study is the first to rigorously characterize the presence of geriatric syndromes in older homeless adults.

"Clinicians who care for homeless adults should screen them for age-related conditions earlier than patients who have not experienced homelessness," says senior author Susan L. Mitchell, M.D., M.P.H., a senior scientist at the Institute for Aging Research. "This study suggests that homeless adults aged 50 and older have high rates of common geriatric conditions that are usually found in patients 65 and older."

Dr. Brown says that many of these conditions are easily treated if they are detected. Addressing these issues proactively, she adds, may reduce adverse outcomes and acute hospitalizations. She also says that screening and standard treatment for geriatric syndromes is warranted for homeless adults over the age of 50 who have access to health care, despite the challenges of delivering health-care services to this population.

Programs like Boston Health Care for the Homeless, which has provided high-quality health-care services in the Greater Boston area for more than 25 years, are key to ensuring that homeless individuals, young and old alike, receive needed medical and dental care.


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Contact: Scott Edwards
edwards@hsl.harvard.edu
617-363-8309
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research
Source:Eurekalert

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