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Who Will Care for America's Seniors?

Stashed in: Awesome, life, America!, economics, Societal Woes, Aging

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Basic introduction to the issues involved in the home health care aide industry. It's a massive demographic disaster about to happen: by 2050, the number of potential caregivers -- close family or paid -- will only be 3:1 for each person over 80. That means that even if you have the means and the organizational ability, you might not be able to hire help. The economics of the industry do not attract educated workers or incentivize agencies to train them or even to screen them for red flags like criminal histories or drug use. From the workers' side, they are often forced to rush from one household to the next all day -- usually unpaid time using their own vehicles -- to make $15 an hour.

does this say anything about family life in america? 

I'm the wrong person to ask, all of my surviving grandparents lived with us throughout our childhood until they needed nursing care for dementia.

So Honor paying home care workers $15 an hour really is industry standard?

Joyce, did both your parents work? 

Yep, ever since I was 3 years old.

then I do think you might a good person to have in this conversation...your family seems like an outlier 

Hahaha we were an outlier in every way! Major thing is that my maternal grandmother was almost 50 years old when my mom was born, and almost 75 when I was born -- so I spent a lot of my childhood with old people in the house. My best friend from childhood is also from a big family and her grandparents were very old when she was born. Also my former in-laws were very much older than me and it's been instructive to see my ex deal with them in a "best case scenario" situation -- they were very healthy, long-lived, had ample resources, and lived in the same town for almost their whole adult lives.

Without getting into the sordid details, let's just say most people have an extremely rose-tinted idea of what in-home health aides really offer. In many states they cannot pick up medication at the pharmacy or administer it at home if you aren't capable of understanding what the medication does. They can't pick you up if you fall. They can't feed you if you refuse to eat. If they commit a crime the agency MUST prosecute them to the full extent of the law in order to avoid liability -- so a person you like and know to be making $8 an hour can go to prison on a felony charge because they were unable to resist the temptation to take a piece of jewelry. It's a really uncomfortable situation all around, and in most cases I have to be honest that if it were me I would prefer to go to assisted living earlier rather than later :/

And Panda, according to this the starting rate for a home health aide in NY is $8 -- a more experienced one is $13. For perspective, let's recall that the minimum wage in Seattle is now $15 and a non-trivial movement is trying to make that the nationwide rate.

$8 to pay people to take care of the most important people in our lives seems... LOW. So low.

most important? you sure about that one?

Most important people in our lives who don't live with us?

siblings? =p

Okay, but that's a technicality. We're talking about very important people in our lives!

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