Background: The homeless population is aging, with early onset of cognitive and functional impairments. It is unclear whether older homeless adults receive caregiving assistance that could prevent long-term disability.
Objective: We describe characteristics of older homeless-experienced adults with caregiving need and determine factors associated with having unmet need.
Design and participants: Cross-sectional analysis of a longitudinal study, Health Outcomes in People Experiencing Homelessness in Older Middle Age (HOPE HOME), examining health, life course events, and functional status among older homeless-experienced (i.e., currently and recently homeless) adults. We recruited 350 homeless adults (July 2013-June 2014) and an additional 100 (August 2017 to July 2018) in Oakland, California; this study includes 303 participants who completed caregiving interviews.
Measurements: We defined caregiving need as difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), falls, Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score < 10, or Modified Mini-Mental State (3MS) exam impairment. We defined unmet need as having caregiving need and reporting not receiving caregiving assistance in the last 6 months. Using logistic regression, we analyzed associations between respondent characteristics and unmet caregiving need.
Results: Among 303 participants, the mean age was 61.3 ± 5.0 years; 73% were men and 82% were Black. Eighty-one percent had caregiving needs, and in 82% of those, their caregiving needs were unmet. Better self-rated health (AOR 2.13, CI [1.02-4.46], p = 0.04) and being a man (AOR 2.30, CI [1.12-4.69], p = 0.02) were associated with higher odds of unmet need. Moderate or high-risk substance use (AOR 0.47, CI [0.23, 0.94], p = 0.03) was associated with lower odds of unmet need.
Conclusions: Older homeless-experienced adults have high prevalence of unmet caregiving need. Interventions that increase caregiving access for homeless-experienced individuals may help avoid poor health outcomes and costly long-term-care needs due to untreated disabilities.
Keywords: caregivers; caregiving; homeless; older adults.
© 2022. The Author(s) under exclusive licence to Society of General Internal Medicine.