Aging in Place Women Left Out

aging in place

For most homeless women, then, jobs by themselves were not a way out of homelessness, even if one discounted the large number of women who were too old, too sick, or otherwise too disabled to work”

~ Elliot Liebow, Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women

 

Aging in Place

In an eye-opening online article from abc.net.au by Edwina Seselja and Cathie Schnitzerling, House-sitting, couch surfing keeping ‘almost homeless’ older woman off the streets, the alarming tale of a 58-year-old woman named “Zoe” who has a message for younger women. The Brisbane Australia mother of two has not had stable housing for over 2 years. The story describes the forces which cripple many women in their 40s and 50s who have experienced a lifetime of workplace gender discrimination, relationship breakups, part-time casual work (raising children/caregiving aging parents), health issues, age discrimination, and plain bad luck. Women like Zoe have worked all their lives, married, raised families, ran businesses, owned homes and because of accumulated factors are falling through the cracks of social safety nets and finding themselves without a secure roof over their heads. She reported that she lives where she can, couch surfs and home sits, she does whatever she can to avoid sleeping on the streets.

Her message to younger generations of women was essentially this:

1) have a backup plan and a man is not a plan

2) get a good education

3) get a good job

4) create a business

5) despite all your best-laid plans things can go wrong

 

See

ABC Radio Brisbane

All summer long, an older woman who was very classy looking, appeared to be spending extended periods in her car at a park near my home. Her vehicle was newer, she had a cute little dog, dressed nicely, and was well-spoken. After some time, I finally realized she was living out of her car. I made sure to check in on her and engaged in frequent conversations. She was divorced, had kids/grandkids in other cities, and had lost secure housing during the pandemic. Finally, at the end of summer, she happily reported finding affordable housing and would be moving in soon. I’m relieved to report she has not been back to the park since. I miss our conversations, but I’m glad she is settled and safe.

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