Younger boomers suffer from homelessness

March 14, 2013 at 1:31 AM
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BALTIMORE, March 14 (UPI) -- On any given night, more than 600,000 people are homeless on U.S. streets and some estimate about a third are 47 or older -- baby boomers, experts say.

Nilesh Kalyanaraman, chief medical officer at Health Care for the Homeless, a clinic in Baltimore, said like similar clinics across the country, his facility is seeing more older patients as the baby boom generation ages, NPR reported.

Researchers said unlike the older baby boomers such as Bill Clinton and George Bush, both 67, who became of age when America had a shortage of workers due to World War II, the younger boomers had a harder time.

Many younger baby boomers who came of age in the late 1970s and 1980s when the economy was especially bad never got on track because of a lack of opportunity, NPR reported.

Unemployment rose from 5.1 percent in January 1974 to 9 percent in May 1975 and jumped again to 6.9 percent in April 1980. Unemployment reached 10.8 percent in December 1982 -- higher than at any time in the post-war era. Unemployment rates for every major group reached post-war highs, but men age 20 and older were particularly hard hit, a report by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board said.

By spring of 1983, 30 states had double digit unemployment rates, and by 1984, West Virginia has a 13.6 percent unemployment rate.

By the time these baby boomers reached middle age, the Great Recession hit and some were one paycheck or an illness from being homeless.

The homeless boomers usually have extensive health problems because health issues escalate when living on the street, because of a poor diet, poor sleep, crime and the elements.

"If you're on the street, you're about three times more likely to have hypertension or cardiovascular disease. You're about 50 percent more likely to die from it as well," Kalyanaraman told NPR. "Diabetes is more prevalent if you're homeless. It's harder to control."

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