The In-Home Care Debate

“Aging in place” has been a popular concept for more than a decade. No matter how healthy they are, most older individuals who choose to stay at “home” may have to rely on in-home care at some point in time.

Currently, there is an exemption that allows employers to pay less than minimum wage and avoid paying more for overtime and for overnight stay. Most people who own an in-home care business seem to oppose these proposed changes, citing less affordable care and loss of some full-time positions as possible adverse consequences.

They make a good point about protecting older and vulnerable people from costly care. They also make an excellent argument that the rule can potentially hurt rather than help employees earn a decent wage. Not a financially savvy person myself, I am not sure if companies can find a way to pay their employees a reasonable wage without transferring the burden entirely onto those who benefit from in-home care.

Some of these paid caregivers are also older and poor. In fact, some may be working as paid in-home care workers just so they can financially support another elderly family member of their own. What will be the best way to protect everyone’s rights and keep everyone happy? Is it ever possible?

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About C

If you consider volunteering at a luncheon for older adults as my first exposure to the field, I have been in geropsychology for at least twenty years. As family, friend, volunteer, trainee, and professional, I have found myself in adult day care centers, senior centers, senior living facilities, nursing homes, medical and psychiatric wards, hospice, and personal homes of older adults. Wherever I go, be it an orphanage, a museum, a prison, an airport, or a random corner in the neighborhood, issues related to aging and mental health often come to mind. I used to think that I could make a difference only if I became a top-notch researcher, educator, or clinician. As I continue to follow this meandering path, it dawns on me that as a nobody in the field, I can still add my light to the sum of light by sharing what I know. Over the years, I have "converted" a few very dedicated individuals to focus on aging-related work within their respective disciplines and encouraged a handful more to stay in this field despite its winding course. I believe by bringing aging and mental health issues to the foreground, we will amass a stronger force to promote advocacy, research, and quality care.
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