Tackling Late-Life Homelessness in Canada

Many older adults experience homelessness in Canada, yet current shelters and temporary housing are not designed or resourced for them. We outline the magnitude of this large and growing public health and social challenge, describe the social and health care needs of older adults experiencing homelessness, and suggest potential solutions. 

Key points: 

  • People experiencing homelessness develop geriatric syndromes and medical conditions that occur more commonly with older age, including cognitive and functional impairment, at younger ages than their counterparts who have not experienced homelessness.
  • The proportion of people 50 years and older using shelters is increasing, but most shelters in Canada are not adequately designed and resourced to meet the needs of older adults.
  • Older adults experiencing homelessness, who have often have a history of injustice and trauma, require individualized and integrated approaches to meet their needs; these approaches require collaborations between health and long-term care, public health, housing, and other community agencies.
Publication Date: 
Journal Name: 
Canadian Medical Association Journal