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Home health aide caregiver works with older adult

Why Baby Boomers Need Immigrants (Politico)

Date: 
Oct. 25, 2017

Home health aides are in high demand and short supply as baby boomers require additional care, according to Healthforce Associate Director of Research Joanne Spetz, PhD. But, policies that stop immigrants from entering the country could slow the supply of these low-paid workers who care for aging Americans. 

According to Politico, aging adults and their families could be in trouble:

"Joanne Spetz, director of the Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care at the University of California, San Francisco, says there are reasons the job is low-paid. If a family is paying the caretaker directly, “not a lot of individuals or families have the kind of resources to pay much above minimum wage for this kind of work.” State Medicaid programs generally support home care services for low-income patients, but states cap their reimbursement levels to care providers.

Some people think robots might pick up the slack. Researchers are already at work on caretaking robots designed to keep an eye on grandma.There’s also a social element: part of the job is keeping the person company and watching for any signs of distress or change in condition. Home health aides can be tasked with running errands and taking care of chores around the house, too. “People talk about, ‘Oh gee, we need robot bathtubs,’” said Spetz. “Eh, maybe. That’s only going to get you so far.

There’s another possible economic drawback. If families can’t afford or find a worker to care for their loved ones, they might have to do the job themselves — which would reduce the family’s income and reduce overall economic output. In that scenario, “one of the children in the household has to quit their jobs to take care of grandma,” Spetz said. “That’s taking a productive worker out of your economy essentially. So that’s not necessarily the best alternative.”

Get the full story from Politico.

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