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"We Really Help, Taking Care of Each Other": Older Homeless Adults as Caregivers.



Many older homeless adults maintain contact with family. We conducted a qualitative study examining the role of family caregiving for older homeless adults.


We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with a sample of 46 homeless participants who reported spending at least one night with a housed family member in the prior 6 months.


A total of 13 of 46 older adult participants provided caregiving. Themes included (a) the death of the care recipient led to the participant's homelessness; (b) feeling a duty to act as caregivers; (c) providing care in exchange for housing; (d) caregivers' ability to stay was tenuous; (e) providing care conflicted with the caregiver's needs; and (f) resentment when family was ungrateful.


In a sample of older homeless adults in contact with family, many provided caregiving for housed family. For some, caregiving precipitated homelessness; for others, caregiving provided temporary respite from homelessness, and for others, caregiving continued during homelessness.

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