HUDSON, Ohio — With the large baby-boomer demographic getting older and the economic downturn taking its toll, there is a growing number of homeless seniors.

Kristin Keller is a social worker with Laurel House, a new emergency shelter, only the second of its kind in Ohio, that gives displaced seniors a safe place while making plans for permanent housing.

Keller said a typical emergency shelter can be a challenging environment for older residents. They can be busy, noisy places filled with children and lacking privacy. Meanwhile, seniors might have limited mobility, vision or hearing loss, memory problems, dietary restrictions and other common issues of aging.

Laurel House can accommodate up to five residents age 55 and older who will be referred by various agencies, churches and other organizations.

Guests must be able to live independently. They can stay rent-free for up to 90 days while nursing and social-service professionals help them figure out their next step.

Laurel House has three bedrooms with a total of five single beds. The ranch house also has a walk-out basement, with expansive backyard and pond. Floors and bathrooms were made wheelchair-accessible.

Renovations were paid with grants.

Cindy Rocco is a nurse who will work with Laurel House. Rocco and Keller said they have seen many cases in recent years where an emergency shelter would have been welcomed.

They cited people in need of temporary housing due to a fire or structural damage of their home, and senior citizens who finished a hospital stay with nowhere to go upon release.