Walking a Mile in Their Shoes: Sociocultural Considerations in Elder Homelessness


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Abstract

This article discusses the sociocultural considerations from an anthropologic view superimposed on a physical therapist's perspective. A historic approach to homelessness in America, starting from colonial times and progressing into the late 20th century, provides a fascinating review of cultural circumstances that lead to elder homelessness. Subgroups of the homeless population such as older homeless veterans, older homeless men, and older homeless women are presented. Discussion revolves around the social dynamics that lead to or prevent homelessness within these subgroups of American culture. Lastly, the changes required in the perceptions and attitudes of rehabilitation professionals in order to adequately meet the needs of homeless elders are provided. Model programs for providing rehabilitative services for homeless populations are presented with an emphasis on physical therapy.

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