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Circle the City providers seeing more homeless older adults with memory loss

More and more older adults — we’re talking people 55 and older — are becoming homeless, in some cases for the very first time. The experiences can be frightening, especially when the individual suffers from memory loss. 

Dr. Yvonne Patterson is the outpatient medical director with Circle the City, which provides health care to the homeless. She says she and her colleagues are seeing an increase in patients with dementia-like symptoms. 

"Somebody who has dementia may forget what medications they are taking. They may have trouble remembering appointments," she said.

Patterson remembers a time when a patient came to them with memory loss after being discharged from a skilled-nursing facility.

"He was so fearful the first night on campus, he was really afraid, you know? Can you imagine being 76? Being a little bit confused? Never been homeless before and having to navigate the Human Service Campus would be terribly frightening," said Patterson.

Solutions for this population are limited. However, later this year, one of the only homeless shelters for seniors will open in Phoenix.

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.