Health Issues of Those Experiencing Homelessness
There are hundreds and thousands of people across the U.S who are subjected to homelessness. Homelessness has close relation with the decline in an individual's physical and mental health and can be shown in many forms. Individuals are at a greater risk of skin disorders and diseases to the extremities. Homelessness leads to health problems such as malnutrition, parasitic infestations, degenerative joint diseases and venereal diseases. Being homeless also leads to risk of developing mental illnesses and other illnesses such as AIDS.
With lack of access to prenatal care and basic health care, a homeless pregnant woman is at greater health risk. Medicaid is simply not enough for the distinct health needs that women need. Homelessness has a direct correlation with low birthweight and preterm delivery which can go on to affect future health outcomes of the infant and child or even have the risk of death (Clark, et al., 2019).
Homelessness in infants can go on to negatively affect their emotional and behavioral development and put them at a higher risk for serious health issues (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2021). These developmental and health problems are due to many components such as: lack of immunizations, lack of health insurance, and exposure to environmental detriments.
Homelessness has an alarming effect on the academic development of the youth. The highest segment is the homeless population are adults with children. With the lack of housing, frequent moving, enrollment barriers and health requirements children aren’t able to get the proper education. Each barrier causes a disruption to the child’s education and academic development.
For homeless youth, a lack of nutritional foods or food insecurity can lead to starvation and obesity as well as other health complications that often go untreated (National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth & Families, 2018). This specific homeless population has about 10 times the mortality rate compared to non-homeless youth (Auerswald, Lin, & Parriott, 2016). Alcohol and other substance abuse is common within the homeless youth as well as sexual abuse, sexual assault, and preganancy (National Clearinghouse on Homless Youth & Families, 2018).
For any age group and any population, the health care system needs to be better at providing access to food, care, and preventative tools. This cannot be easily obtained but can progress through time and bring better access to needy adults, pregnant women, and children who deserve basic health amenities such as housing, clean and nutritional food and water, and health care.
Auerswald C. L., Lin, J. S., and Parriott, A., (2016). Six-year mortality in a street-recruited cohort of homeless youth in San Fransisco, California. National Library of Medicine. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1909
Clark, R. E., Weinreb, L., Flahive, J. M., and Seifert, R. W., (2019). Homelessness contributes to pregnancy complications. Maternal Health. 38 (1). https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05156
Institute of Medicine, (1988). Committee on health care for homeless people: homelessness, health, and human needs. National Academy of Sceiences. 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218236/
National Allience to End Homelessness, (2021). Children and families. Homlessness In America. https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/who-experiences-homelessness/children-and-families/
National Clearinghouse on Homless Youth and Families, (2018). The health needs of homeless youth. https://rhyclearinghouse.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2018/10/health-needs-homeless-youth#:~:text=According%20to%20Youth.gov%2C%20homeless,people's%20conditions%20often%20go%20untreated.
National Coalition for the Homeless, (2007). Education of homeless children and youth. NCH Fact Sheet. 1-5. https://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/education.pdf