On any given night in American there are between 700,000 to two million homeless people and many are their by own choice.
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As a nurse working in a large hospital, I see my share of varied patients. This week I had the pleasure ,and I truly mean pleasure, of taking care of a 48 year old homeless gentleman.
Mr. X had a history of TB and had not been able to afford his medications. Sleeping outside in a field with only a sleeping bag and blanket as his home and with the raw freezing nights, his respiratory status quickly deteriorated.
He walked three hours with his personal belongings on his back and a blanket wrapped around his shoulders to the nearest hospital. The temperature was around 25 degrees.
He was admitted with rule out TB and possible pneumonia, placed on my floor in Respiratory/ Droplet Isolation and started back on his unaffordable medications. It was soon found his TB was not active and he did not have pneumonia, only the flu.
Mr. X was a model patient. He was kind, quiet, respectful and thankful for whatever we did for him. It was noted in his records he had a drug habit and he did often ask for pain medication. His complaint was pain in his chest from coughing. He would request IV Morphine but when told no he smiled and gave no further argument. We did give him pills for complaints of pain every four hours.
Because of his homeless situation case management was called in to help with outpatient medications, and to try and find a group home or half-way house in which he could recuperate.
Mr. X refused all our efforts to help him. I asked him why. I was told he liked the way he lived. He enjoyed sleeping outside in the quiet, even when it was cold. He didn’t need a home or family, he was fine on his own. He told me he received a small monthly check from the sale of some land he once owned in another state. This kept him in food, drugs and cigarettes.
In the end he was discharged with his belongings on his back, a months supply of his TB medications, and whatever we nurses could hide in his backpack or a bag. I know he left with a new blanket, juices, peanut butter and crackers.
I found his choice to be homeless confusing. I tried to look up statistics on the homeless by choice and could find none. I did find several personal stories by people with family members that are homeless by choice. This odd breed of the homeless population seems to be thriving and growing.
In my research I found on any given night in American there are between 700,000 to 2 million homeless people and the main reasons stated for their homelessness.
REASONS FOR HOMELESSNESS
1. Low wages.
2. Reduced benefits.
3. Shortage of affordable housing.
4. Limited access to public housing.
5. Parent or parents unable or unwilling to help a child.
6. Disputes with a spouse from divorce and or domestic abuse.
7. Mental illness or drug abusers.
8. Former prisoners.
9. Natural disasters.
10. Teen runways.
The definition for homelessness is having no home or haven. There is no definition for homelessness by choice and the reasons someone would chose this lifestyle is a bafflement to me.