When Kathy Duran was 22, she worked as a server at a retirement home in Highlands Ranch. Due to privacy issues she requested that the retirement home not be named. During her time there, she witnessed caregivers, or people who worked to help the elderly with everyday life, make a difference in people’s lives.
“They were nice people to work with, and they worked hard. It was great to have people who care about others like that as a coworker,” said Duran. “It’s a tough job, but I think it was rewarding for (the caregivers) because you saw the relationship they established with the elderly.”
The need for senior care is growing in the United States. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 1.2 million jobs related to elderly care will be needed by 2028. By 2040, there will be 14.6 million American adults age 85 and up. Nowadays, there are over 34 million family caregivers who help to take care of elderly family members in need. There are currently 3.3 million paid personal care and home health aides.
Although there is a need, filling caretaker jobs can be difficult. The jobs often present difficult work conditions, low chances to making strides professionally, high turnover rates – and low pay. According to statistics from the online job recruiting website “glassdoor” the average caregiver salary pays $25,185 per year.
However, just because the job doesn’t pay well, doesn’t mean the work caregivers do isn’t valuable. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, 41 million caregivers in the United States provide $470 billion in unpaid assistance. Places that pay high wages in the country like New York, Texas, California and Florida are examples of states that lead the way in unpaid care in the United States.
That report from the American Association of Retired Persons found that family caregivers worked a total of 34 billion hours of care in 2017 to Americans who struggle to perform daily activities. That includes the elderly and people who are disabled.
“In both the public and private sectors, family caregiving issues are growing in scope and complexity due to several important factors. Family caregiving is more complex and intense. Family structures are changing,” the report reads.
The American Association of Retired Persons named November as National Family Caregivers Month. Hispanics make up 21 percent, the majority of caregivers. African Americans come in second, while Asian Americans and Whites trail behind, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.
Former President Bill Clinton called family caregivers quiet everyday heroes in 2000.
“By providing billions of dollars’ worth of caregiving services each year, they dramatically reduce the demands on our Nation’s health care system and make an extraordinary contribution to the quality of lives of their loved ones,” Clinton said in 2000 when he proclaimed National Family Caregivers Month.