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The Cost of Caregiving: Raising Wages and Awareness

Blog January 13th, 2015

People have been talking about Maria Shriver’s documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert. Of course, the subject of the documentary is Katrina Gilbert, a single mother of three working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

She provides senior care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

It’s a physically exhaustive career, that often includes a great deal of custodial duties not everyone is cut out for. In addition to the physical labors however, she is also taxed mentally each day. One of the prime functions of a caregivers’ job is to provide positive companionship – even when you’re not having the best day yourself – and you must be a beacon for the elders who are suffering from depression, loneliness, or a fear of what’s happening to them.

It’s not easy being positive all the time, and it’s especially difficult when you’re surrounded by people that are suffering.

Because of where the seniors are in their lives, Katrina Gilbert sacrifices a great deal of time that could otherwise be spent with her kids at home. She spends more time with the elders and likely part of this is because her kids have long and happy lives ahead of them, whereas many of the seniors she assists are terminal and need a shoulder.

If by this point, you’re sitting in your chair admiring what Gilbert does, then that’s where we face the real meat of this story. She, a single mother of three, earns $9.49 an hour – and there is no health insurance. This is a problem.

This is the problem.

We’ve talked a lot about the Quiet Crisis because it’s happening. We’re going to witness it in the next decade. RoboCare is becoming an alternative, as is flying your seniors overseas to get quality and affordable elder care, but this is one of the core problems with senior care in America.

People don’t pursue caregiving and can you blame them? No doubt, Gilbert could probably be making more as a manager of a fast-food franchise. Obviously, she continues in her line of work because she actually cares about seniors and believes she’s making a difference, but the cost of caregiving is time with her family and affording her family.

Raising the Minimum Wage for Caregivers

People want to raise minimum wage, but often, when people think of “minimum wage” they’re preprogrammed to think of fast-food employees, retail salespersons, and waiters… they don’t consider the men and women that have dedicated their lives to being caregivers for our elderly.

Maybe that’s part of the reason this strikes such a chord with us at Concierge Care Advisors. When we discussed the pros and cons of sending your elder overseas to receive care, one of the pros was certainly the cultural background. Eastern countries CARE about their elders whereas it feels like our culture treats many of them as a burden. On its own, that’s a problem, but this isn’t quite the place to expand on that.

What needs to happen now is we need to increase the minimum wage, if only to help the CNAs of our society. These are people that are underappreciated and frankly, disrespected.

We’ve said it before, but it will never hurt to say it again, being a caregiver is a vocation – you are called to it, so why should you be punished for it?

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