The incidence of diabetes amongst homelessness is high and research indicates that this rate is higher than amongst the general population. According to a study conducted by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) the life expectancy of a homeless person is about 45-49 years. It has also been reported by the NHCHC that difficulties related to diabetes is the primary cause of death among the homeless population!
For homeless people, food is a priority. Personal health and care take a back seat. The cornerstone of effective diabetes intervention is lifestyle related; namely diet control, exercise and regular medication. Not knowing when your next meal is going to come, can fade issues like diabetes management into insignificance.
Diet, is a very big deal for homeless people and an integral part of diabetes care. Being homeless, makes focusing on well- balanced meals and planning a diabetic diet, nearly impossible. Most homeless people rely on soup kitchens or shelters. Food choices are restricted and unbalanced, starch and sugars may be in abundance as they are less expensive. This causes obesity in patients.
For pregnant homeless women, planning a gestational diabetes diet is out of the question. Most shelters provide only one meal a day, resulting in patients being unable to predict their meal times. This makes taking medication a task, as diabetics need to coordinate meal times with medication doses.
People with no home or job also have no fixed schedule. When you can’t plan for lunch at a certain time, monitoring blood glucose can become a challenge—if not an impossibility. Often, homeless people have to depend on food stamps and the generosity of others to last through the day.
E91 – Diabetes, Homelessness and Food – www.diabetic.today