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  • Ann Hollander

Where are the paid caregivers?


Frustrated in your search for a paid caregiver? You are not alone. There is an extreme shortage of helpers right now. Even before COVID, the demand for aides was greater than the supply. The "Great Resignation" hit the caring professions hard. Caregivers close to retirement left early. And many younger workers decided to opt for safer, less demanding jobs. In some states, as many as 38% of direct-care workers chose other occupations last year.


Caregiving is strenuous work, usually for very low pay. And there's little societal respect for the career. The work can involve unpleasant personal care tasks. As well, clients with dementia may behave unkindly. Even clients without memory and thinking problems have been known to take out frustrations on paid helpers.


Adding to those realities, there is little growth opportunity for direct-care workers. Even jobs at fast-food chains pay better. Corporate employers can also provide more-flexible schedules so parents can be home after school. All these factors make direct care a less appealing career choice. Nearly half of paid caregivers quit within their first year.


By 2030 we will have twice as many people over 65 as we had in 2011. And we will have fewer young people in the population, so fewer potential helpers.


Yikes! As a family in need of help, this can be distressing news. As many as 85% of home-care companies reported having to turn away new clients at least once because they didn't have the staff.


If you are lucky enough to get help, strive to make it a lasting relationship. Don't tolerate poor work, but make an effort to thank and treat with respect those aides who do good work. It will be in your best interest, and in your loved one's. The shortage is very real.


Are you having trouble finding help?

It can be daunting. As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we at Options for Aging are actively strategizing about this problem every day. It's a challenge throughout the nation. Give us a call at 847-868-1445. Let's see what we can do together.

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