Neon signboard 24 7 open time. Vector illustration

Since mid-January, Marjorie has been Bob Dettmer’sround-the-clock caretaker. Bob is fogged in by Alzheimer’s and unsteady from Parkinson’s. Marjorie’s job is called home health aide, but the term does not begin to encompass her duties. She is social worker, housekeeper, behavioral-modification expert, dietitian, diaper changer, day planner, de facto case manager, warden and more.

Marjorie agreed to do the job for a flat rate of $160 per day plus room and board. Her workday starts when Bob wakes up, or before, and finishes after he goes to sleep, and can stretch for 14 or 16 hours or more. She works 26 or 27 days out of the month. The pay is not much — at 16 hours a day, it would come to $10 an hour — but Bob’s family is deeply grateful, and that counts for a lot.

Home health care is the fastest growing major job category in the country, one of the most emotionally and personally demanding, and one of the worst paid.

But home care workers’ labor happens behind closed doors. The workers are mostly women of color, and about one-third are immigrants. As a result, many advocates say, their work is systemically devalued, dismissed as “domestic care” and reimbursed at rock-bottom rates by state Medicaid programs.

It is a vicious circle. Because these have always been poor-paying jobs, they are seen as lousy, low-skill jobs. And because they are seen as lousy, low-skill jobs, they pay poorly.

“They are taking care of people with very complex needs, people who have multiple chronic conditions, who may have all kinds of varied living environments. A lot of the families are really dysfunctional and the aides have to deal with that, too. And they’re getting paid chump change, and it’s a travesty.”

Read more and view the photos on the New York Times.

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  1. My mom got here wings in December. I was with her 24/7 for 4 years with little to no help from my 5 brothers and 1 sister. 1 day a week Wednesday my baby brother took mom to dinner (just found out that her would yell at her and make her upset about things she did or said.)He, and my out of state brother would tell me what to do or what she need to do. I did a lot of crying because I was with mom and away from my husband (we live 45 miles apart ) my husband came to see us 3 to 4 times a week, we spent weekends together weather at mom’s home or my house. It was hard but I am so glad I had a loving husband and he love mom. I have no regrets and I love mom so much and see love me. She always asked what would I do with out you. Now I ask what am I going to do with out her.

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