The issue of homelessness amongst the youth in Ireland can be traced back to the eighteenth century. The problem has increasingly undermined the nation since the later years of the 20th century (the early 1970s). What is more disturbing is that despite there being reports on the same, the state has been sluggish in providing accommodation and shelter to its homeless youths.
As such, the number of affected youths has spiked significantly in the past three years. According to Grotti et al. (2018), there were 882 homeless youths aged between 18 and 24 two years ago. Such is in comparison to the 456 youths who had been reported homeless five years earlier.
All the same, the availability of reliable information about youth homelessness on the island is highly constrained. As much as they can be grouped into three major categories, no data is available on the groups’ dynamic attributes or size. Some youths grew in the care system and received complete welfare payments but cannot secure accommodation. Others have little or no link to the care system and thus are on decreased rate welfare overheads. The final group constitutes the young parents accommodates in homeless families. According to Grotti et al. (2018), the youth are highly likely to be officially homeless than elderly homeless individuals. Most importantly, little is known about the figure excluded from the official reports but qualify as homeless.
Hans Selye Theory
The general adaptation syndrome constitutes a three-phased process outlining the body changes of a stressed individual developed by Hans. After confining rats in a lab, he arrived at his conclusions, exposing them to stressful events and making interferences (Tan & Yip, 2018). In explaining homelessness amongst the youth, the theory can explain the implications of the extended adolescents’ exposure to the critical daily stress of finding shelter and food. As such, they are preoccupied with securing a place to stay for the night, something to eat, and how to keep warm. They are not concerned with consulting a counselor as much as it would help address some of the causes of their homelessness.
In the first stage of the theory, the homeless experience the “fight-or-flight” response to stress. The phase is termed as the alarm reaction level, where the individuals have to decide between fleeing and protecting themselves. Resistance to change accounts for the second stage where the body commences healing after the fight-or-flight response. Their bodies adjust to the situation, but they remain alert. However, upon the persistence of the stressor, the body adapts and learns how to live with it, but the victims are unaware of it. The exhaustion stage accounts for the final phase, where struggling with stress drains the youths’ mental, emotional, and physical resources. They suffer from a weakened immune system and are prone to mental illnesses.
Erikson’s Psychosocial Development Theory
When envisioning the issue, the youth move into the streets due to home violence and hardships. Their family members neglect them instead of offering the needed support. Furthermore, moving to the roads makes them targets. According to Kaiser (2020), Erikson’s theory suggests that siblings and parents influence trust, initiative, and autonomy development. Concurrently, society contributes to consciousness development. When caregivers mistreat and abuse children, they move to the streets, resulting in distrust and feelings of betrayal by adults. Such children lack basic needs, respect, affection, and love. Their incapacitated trust and dependence on others hinder them from being part of a functional, loving relationship.
In consideration of Erikson’s stipulations, each constituent of an individual’s personality must be cultivated appropriately. Failure to do so alters the development of the individual’s other personality. Most importantly, the scenario hinders an individual’s potential. Failure to protect their adolescence stage deprives them of positive coping mechanisms. They may experience a destroyed future and further remain unaware of their actual identity. According to the theory, the members of an individual’s social environment affect their development process and convey compelling societal messages. As such, the adverse effects in street children’s lives hinder their development process.
The Resilience Theory
The theory emphasizes the essence of dealing with adversity over its nature. When people encounter frustration, misfortune, and hardship, resilience aids them in getting back on track. They survive, recover, and thrive in the face of their adversity. Homeless youths constitute one of society’s most vulnerable groups due to their high predisposition to significant risks compared to other youths. According to Masten (2018), people have personal assets and strengths that facilitate coping in times of hardship. Such resources entail aspirations, assertiveness, humor, and optimism. Other unconventional approaches include wearing dirty clothes for pity when seeking public aid and teasing others to create humor.
Systems theory acknowledges the role of interpersonal resources and social relationships in developing resilience among homeless youths. In the absence of their family, they depend on friendship in the street environment as a critical survival factor. On the other hand, the social learning theories stipulate that toxic environments such as incompetent parenting at a home place the youths at risk for homelessness. Sadly, homelessness further aggravates the risk of diminished outcomes among such young people. Such kids often come from more deleterious homes and are subject to high victimization rates than housed youths.
Challenges with Elders Living at Home Alone
Lack of companionship entails a critical challenge amongst many seniors, especially those incapacitated from driving, separated from their children, or those with demised partners. Such changes are overwhelming to deal with hence making companionship crucial for such people. Senior care service is rewarding as it instills a sense of satisfaction in helping seniors deal with their life challenges. Besides, a group of people is also prone to falling or tripping in unsafe environments (Yamagishi & Kusumi, 2016). Most of the dangers exist in their home environment. When the lonely elderly fall, they may be unable to alert others or get up. Having a support system helps cater to the unique needs of such populations.
Besides, the individuals are incompetent in completing their errands when left alone. Some of them may need help maintaining their homes and running errands such as going for appointments and buying foodstuffs. Other challenges entail remembering medication and the preparation of a nutritious meal. Mental illness may cause forgetfulness and fatigue that deters proper medication follow up. Besides, such people may be incapable of cooking at home or even lack the interest to prepare balanced meals for their health. They end up embracing unhealthy lifestyles that further deteriorate their health.
Application of Bowen’s Family Theory
Bowen sought to elucidate the family patterns that develop in the bid to defuse anxiety. Perceptions of significant distances and extreme closeness in relationships are critical generators of stress. According to Thompson et al. (2019), the individuals in a three-person relationship system reflect their effort to assure emotional attachment to other people, take sides in conflicts, and extreme intensities in their affections. The triangle’s patterns shift with variance in tension. Two individuals are comfortable with each other and close insiders. However, the third individual becomes an uncomfortable outsider. As such, insiders do away with the outsider where they chose each other over the outsider, who eventually develops rejection feelings.
Family members who cannot manage their unresolved emotional matters with family members cut off their contact and move to a new location. The act of running away is not an indicator of emotional independence but rather a perception of the problem being the other family members. The state of homelessness in the elderly emanates when the insiders cut off to be with an outsider. The new relationship becomes significant hence undermining the initial one. Children may disconnect with their parents or old siblings, resulting in homelessness and loneliness among the latter.
Application of Bowen’s Therapy
Bowen’s therapy’s ultimate objective is individual differentiation that arises from within one instead of initiation by a therapist. That said, Bowen perceived the family as an emotional unit with interlocking connections that can be best comprehended when evaluated from a multigenerational context. It draws from system thinking that assesses the components of a system as it relates to the whole and further applies it to families hence suggesting that the functioning of an individual’s origin determines their behavior (Lassiter, 2017). The two are inseparable. Therefore, the approach may be meaningful for the family systems.
The emotional interdependence of members develop to bolster the cooperation and cohesiveness that families need to feed, shelter, and protect their members. However, the therapy also suggests that high tensions can intensify the said processes hence undermining the family system. Increased anxiety deters the family members’ emotional connection, becoming a source of stress instead of comfort. The individuals who accommodate the most to mitigate the tension become out of control, overwhelmed, or isolated. For instance, a worried parent may accommodate the anxiety of the system hence deeming them predisposed to predicaments such as homelessness and depression.
Application of Resilience Theory
Rutter presents resilience as the interactive concept concerned with multiple serious risk encounters and a generally positive psychological result despite the challenges. Accordingly, he presents resilience as more than positive mental health since competence has to coexist with risk to facilitate resilience given the relevant resources (Hariharan & Rana, 2016). Some people manage homelessness due to their genetic implications that make them less vulnerable to environmental changes. Some may survive alone, whereas others may not, depending on the resources at their disposal.
Concurrently, Garmezy articulated resilience as not primarily imperviousness to stress but rather a reflection of the recovery capacity and adaptive practices that follow the initial incapacitation after a stressful occurrence. In the compensatory paradigm, stressors like homelessness among the elderly lower competence, and their attributes enhance their adjustment capacity. The immunity vs. vulnerability paradigm outlines that the connection of stress and the outcome depends on the personal attribute in question. For instance, an elderly in high poverty may develop a cohesive environment that interacts with poverty to lower risk.
The challenge model suggests that stressors that do not exceed the minimum and maximum bolster adjustment. It helps the elderly develop coping skills and mobilize external as well as internal resources. Lastly, Werner presented resilience as the ability of people to cope with the internal stressors of their vulnerabilities and external stress (Hariharan & Rana, 2016). An individual’s protective attributes, such as activity level and sociability, are sources of external and emotional support for the homeless elderly.
In deterring youth homelessness, it is essential to acknowledge that the leading causes of the predicament are neglect and abuse in their homes. Interventions must occur in the earliest stage possible to foster family stability. There should be parent support and parent education strategies that complement comprehensive community-oriented family support. Such can facilitate family strengthening and connect them to community resources, bolster desirable parenting, and enhance parents’ capacity to care for their young ones. The plan must deter youth homelessness by locating and collaborating with the most vulnerable families. It must also identify and engage youths experiencing the problem and those at risk. Most importantly, it is essential to ensure access to safe shelter when needed.
In the rear, assisting the homeless, the elderly need more coordinated action to facilitate rapid response to the crisis by developing more services and housing. It is essential to have better approaches to serve the currently homeless older adults till they secure proper housing. The local government should collaborate with homeless service providers to facilitate the serving of the victims. Indeed, elderly homelessness is a poverty predicament. As such, it is essential to raise income supports for the vulnerable. Besides, high healthcare costs also increase the risk of homelessness. The state must ensure creative, accessible, personalized, and affordable care.
Grotti, R., Russell, H., Fahey, É., & Maître, B. (2018). Discrimination and inequality in housing in Ireland. Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
Hariharan, M., & Rana, S. (2016). Conceptual complexity of resilience. The Routledge International Handbook of Psychosocial Resilience, 24.
Kaiser, E. (2020). Violence on street children: Looking through Erikson’s psychosocial development theory. Journal of Health and Social Sciences, 5(1), 045-052.
Lassiter, L. (2017). Undifferentiated Family Ego Mass in Bowen Therapy.
Masten, A. S. (2018). Resilience theory and research on children and families: Past, present, and promise. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 10(1), 12-31.
Tan, S. Y., & Yip, A. (2018). Hans Selye (1907–1982): Founder of the stress theory. Singapore medical journal, 59(4), 170.
Thompson, H. M., Wojciak, A. S., & Cooley, M. E. (2019). Family-based approach to the child welfare system: an integration of Bowen family theory concepts. Journal of Family Social Work, 22(3), 231-252.
Yamagishi, S., & Kusumi, H. (2016). P112 The Difficulties of Living at Home and Approaches to Dealing with Those Difficulties of the Elderly Who Live Alone and Receive Visiting Care. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 52(6), e94.