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Working as home health aides can provide job opportunities for older Americans

indExperts now predict that nearly 33% of homecare providers will be over the age of 55  by 2018.
indExperts now predict that nearly 33% of homecare providers will be over the age of 55 by 2018.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Older Americans looking for work often find it difficult to find jobs for several reasons, including a shortage of available positions, as well as age discrimination. And while it is illegal for potential employers to ask someone’s age, one’s resume is often a dead giveaway (even if you look younger than you really are), from the years you graduated school or got your degree to a list of past experience. One area, however, providing opportunities for employment is home health aids. In fact, it is one of the few fields in which middle –aged workers are in demand, so much so that industry experts now predict that nearly 33% of homecare providers will be over the age of 55 within four years.

While these kinds of jobs can provide workers with the satisfaction of helping others, as well as bringing in some needed income, some of the duties can be very demanding, both physically, emotionally and mentally for many, as anyone who has taken care of ill and elderly family members well know. Patients can be difficult. Those with dementia and Alzheimer’s can often be combative and uncooperative, particularly when it comes to bathing, dressing, personally grooming, and even changing diapers, and it can require a lot of effort to get many patients who tend to go dead-weight (both intentionally and unintentionally) on you when trying to lift them after falls or even get them in and out of bed, etc. In addition, many home health aides are also asked to do light housekeeping, as well as laundry and cooking, while others often run various errands including grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy to pick up medications or taking clients to doctors’ appointments, etc. (and thus need valid drivers’ licenses and a car), all for minimum wage ($10 an hour in New York). Some agencies will pay a bit better, up to $15-$18 per hour depending on duties required and experience. In other words, it can be a lot of work for little pay. Yet for those already collecting retirement benefits (including Social Security) the extra money can be a big help paying bills. In addition, work hours can range from a few hours a week to full-time, and you don’t need any prior healthcare background to be hired by most agencies, though they often charge as much as $100 for training. Even those who don’t charge for classes may require trainees to pay for their $20 textbooks.

Before applying to any agency, be sure that they are properly licensed by your state and check them out with the Better Business Bureau.

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