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Jodi Sturgeon's picture

You may be a mom, but you are most definitely a daughter. And if you aren’t yet caring for a parent or grandparent, there is a strong likelihood that you’ll be doing so at some time in the future. That’s why it’s important that all of us start paying attention to what supports are available for elders—and for families providing eldercare.

Women caring for elder family members are often juggling enormous responsibilities. When the stress builds up, we get sick. Family caregivers report higher levels of depression, anxiety, hypertension, and immune system dysfunction. We also put strain on our family budgets. Sometimes we pass on promotions, or we take leave without pay, or when there is no other way, we leave paid work behind. The cumulative loss in income over a life time, according to AARP, averages over $300,000.

One way to reduce stress on family caregivers is to strengthen the paid caregiving workforce. Right now the home care aides we ask to keep our loved ones healthy, safe, and independent, are among the most poorly paid workers in our nation (median wage, $9.40/hour). In addition, training requirements are minimal -- ranging from no requirements for some personal care aides to less than 200 hours of training for home health aides in states that have the most rigorous requirements. Most states require hairstylists to complete 2000 hours of training.

It’s not surprising that with such poor wages and minimal training that many families report bad experiences with paid caregivers. Turnover is exceptionally high, and finding a committed, experienced home care aide can be tough.

There is only one way to attract good people to these jobs---and that’s to show that we value the work caregivers do. Right now there is something you can do to help make that happen. Home care workers are excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime protections, but there is a proposal on the table to change their status. Help us ensure that 2.5 million home care aides are given the respect they deserve by including them under federal wage and hour laws. Sign our petition at today.

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