Homeless Older Adults - A Growing Issue

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

In 2012, Older Adult and Caregiver Services, a ministry of Lutheran Family Services, has seen a dramatic increase in homeless senior referrals.   

So far, we have received calls from 15 homeless older adults age 55 and older; eight of those referrals came during the hottest weeks in July.  

OACS does not have emergency funds available to temporarily house clients, however 3 of the clients this year had nowhere else to turn.  One recent situation involved a son and his mother – the mother has Alzheimer’s Disease and was found wandering the streets a few months ago.  Her son (and only family) took a leave of absence from his job to care for his mom.  He did not know how to get his mom into a nursing home that would be able to care for his mom or how she would pay for it.  After a couple of months of no income, he lost his apartment and he and his mom moved into a motel.  A social worker from Exempla St. Josephs Hospital called OACS to see if we could help.  The family was almost out of money and would be living in his car by the weekend.  We immediately responded with a “yes” (hoping we would find the financial help to pay for this family’s temporary housing needs) and paid the motel for a two weeks stay.  

Our care manager quickly got involved and worked with her contacts in Denver Human Services to get his mom approved for Medicaid and she was in a safe, appropriate Alzheimer’s nursing home within 10 days of our involvement.  The son was so grateful, he told all of his friends to give $5 or $10 to the OACS program.  

Money has been slowly trickling in and, as a result, OACS started a Homeless Senior Fund where we can pool money to be used in situations like this.  Please consider donating to this emergency housing fund: $35 houses an older adult for one night, $999 housing an older adult for one month – long enough to find permanent housing.  If you would like more information, please contact Carri Ratazzi, 303-217-5855,, 363 S Harlan St, Ste 200, Denver, CO 80226.