Reviews in Clinical Gerontology

Psychological and social gerontology

Homelessness among older people and service responses

Maureen Cranea1 c1 and Anthony M Warnesa1

a1 Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, UK


This paper reviews the limited evidence on the causes of homelessness in old age and on the circumstances and problems of older homeless people, and it describes the few services dedicated to the group. Health care and social care professionals rarely encounter homelessness among the many problems of older people that present to them, but in many developed countries there is evidence that the number of older homeless people has recently been growing. Some among them have been homeless intermittently or continuously for years, but many became homeless for the first time in later life. The reasons for becoming homeless and the problems and needs of the group are exceptionally diverse. Many have been estranged from their family or have no living relatives, and they have a high prevalence of health problems and functional limitations. Although services for homeless people in general have improved since the early 1990s, few have targeted the needs of older people.

(Online publication July 27 2010)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Maureen Crane, Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, Samuel Fox House, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield S5 7AU, UK. Email: