The number of homeless seniors in Canada and other “wealthy” countries is rising. As of 2016 those over 50 accounted for more than 41 percent of the homeless in Canada. Many see this as a trend since the overall age of the population is rising. But others also take into account sickness and the inability to pay for rising costs in rents. Homelessness and poverty are growing concerns!
What factors lead to homelessness in the elderly?
- Poverty. The leading cause of homelessness in seniors is financial instability. Without the means to afford safe housing, many seniors can eventually end up living on the streets. For those between 50 and 65, not having a job can mean you may fall between the cracks when it comes to safety nets. Even those who are able to work may not make enough money to support themselves.
- Isolation. The death of a spouse can leave the remaining partner at risk of homelessness. For those who have no other family members or close friends, the depression and stress of losing their partner can mean the loss of everything for the one who remains.
- Illness. For most of the seniors who are ill and homeless, mental illness is the number one factor. Unable to take care of themselves or manage money and without anyone to help, they often end up penniless and alone.
Soup kitchens, food banks and shelters have noticed the increasing age among those who frequently visit. Many of these are run by organizations or churches who try to help the oldest who come to them for help. Many of these seniors come from poorer backgrounds and lived in poverty all of their lives. Most are unskilled with little education. For a large majority, alcohol or drugs also added to their inability to work or find somewhere to live.
To read more on poverty and homelessness and how it affects seniors and the elderly, click here.