According to one estimate from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, more than 80 percent of all homeless people have at least one chronic health condition. More than half have a mental illness. They are frequently the victims of violent crimes, and they’re more susceptible to traumatic injuries like assault and robbery. Their living conditions also make them more likely to have skin conditions and respiratory infections.
“When you see a homeless person in their 50s, you should imagine a 75-year-old.”
Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that people experiencing homelessness have a life expectancy of between 42 and 52 years, compared with 78 for the general population. A recent study by Margot Kushel, a professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, found that homeless people in their 50s develop geriatric conditions such as incontinence, failing eyesight, and cognitive impairment that are typical of people 20 years older. “When you see a homeless person in their 50s,” Kushel says, “you should imagine a 75-year-old.”
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