Study finds Boston's elderly homeless sicker than others
A striking portrait of the health of Boston's elderly homeless population is emerging from a new study by the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. The study finds that homeless seniors in Boston experience higher rates of geriatric syndromes, including functional decline, falls, frailty and depression, than seniors in the general population and that many of these conditions may be easily treated if detected.
"Our study shows that older homeless adults in Boston have higher rates of geriatric syndromes compared to the general population," says lead author Rebecca T. Brown, M.D., a research fellow at the Institute for Aging Research at the time the study was conducted. "Many of these syndromes are treatable if addressed proactively."
Researchers from the Institute for Aging Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program collaborated on the study, which was funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Published online in the Journal of Geriatric Internal Medicine, the study found that geriatric conditions were common in homeless adults ages 50 to 69, including problems with performing daily activities, walking, vision and hearing, as well as falls, frailty, depression and urinary incontinence. The research team examined data from interviews and physical examinations of 247 homeless adults over a six-month period at eight Boston homeless shelters and compared the information with three large population-based study cohorts.
Thirty percent of the homeless seniors reported difficulty performing at least one activity of daily living, such as bathing and dressing, and more than half said they fell in the prior year. Nearly 40 percent experienced major depression, and one-quarter suffered from cognitive decline, primarily impaired executive function (decision-making, planning and judgment).
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.
Provided by Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research
- Homeless people without enough to eat are more likely to be hospitalized Feb 03, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Homeless adults have significant unmet health care needs May 14, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study: Homeless patients cost $2,500 more than the average patient for each hospital stay Mar 08, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Cincy homeless shelter hit with TB May 06, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Toronto homeless report barriers to health care Jul 21, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Authorities are investigating rice mills in southern China following tests that found almost half of the staple grain in one of the country's largest cities was contaminated with a toxic metal.
Health 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
The warning images Brussels proposes to include on tobacco packages in order to reduce consumption do not make the desired impact on smokers because they only find some of them really unpleasant. So, if the ...
Health 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Ten years after the Iraq war of 2003 a team of scientists based in Mosul, northern Iraq, have detected high levels of uranium contamination in soil samples at three sites in the province of Nineveh which, coupled with dramatically ...
Health 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
When it comes to men's sexual health, dirty jokes may just be the best medicine. A QUT researcher is helping Family Planning Queensland (FPQ) use comedy and YouTube to deliver sexuality education to young ...
Health 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—International researchers are studying the salt intake of Indian adults to provide vital new data to aid the development of a national salt reduction strategy.
Health 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
In a remote fishing community in Venezuela, a lone fisherman sits on a cliff overlooking the southern Caribbean Sea. This man –– the lookout –– is responsible for directing his comrades on the water, ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A novel approach to obstructing the runaway inflammatory response implicated in some types of asthma has shown promise in a Phase IIa clinical trial, according to U. S. researchers.
59 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Clinical measurement of physical activity appears to be an independent predictor of whether or not patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will end up being hospitalized, according to a new study conducted ...
44 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Delayed transfer to the intensive care unit (ICU) in hospitalized patients significantly increases the risk of dying in the hospital, according to a new study from researchers in Chicago.
24 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Treatment with an Alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor (A1-PI), a naturally occurring protein that protects lung tissue from breakdown and protects the lung's elasticity, is effective in slowing the progression of emphysema in patients ...
57 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The surgical management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in U.S. hospitals varies widely depending on the race of the patient, according to a new study.
34 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0