Chronic Disease Top Cause of Death Among Homeless
Untreated chronic diseases have become the most common cause of death among homeless individuals, the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, chronic diseases in most cases do not cause homelessness but are an "ingredient in the mix of crushing problems," and homelessness "has a way of magnifying" such illnesses because of the lack of a place to wash and store medications.
About one-third to one-half of the 750,000 homeless individuals in the U.S. have chronic diseases, and more than half lack health insurance. Homeless individuals have a life expectancy of between ages 42 and 52, according to National Health Care for the Homeless Council.
Jeff Singer, president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless Maryland, said, "Homeless folks tend to live half as long as folks who have homes," adding, "It's not always because they freeze to death. The major cause is untreated chronic disease."
In response, more organizations have begun to offer health care services for homeless individuals with chronic diseases (Otto, Washington Post, 10/22).