New York City has seen a rapid increase in the number of individuals working as in home health aides as the city’s population continues to age. Unfortunately, many of these in home health service workers are older people themselves, earning low wages and relying on government services to survive as their own health continues to decline from performing hard work and aging.
Naturally, most seniors wish to preserve their independence and often turn to home health workers to perform cooking, cleaning, and other chores that may be more difficult at an advanced age. Home health workers are vital to the healthcare needs of seniors who do not need or wish to enter into a nursing home or other skilled care facility before it may be necessary or otherwise not cost feasible for any reason.
Experts studying the issue describe New York’s impoverished home health aides as a new underclass, often working long hours without prospects of finding new and better paying work outside their current field. Sources calculate that some of these employees work for at little as $7 to $8 per hour, adding up to around $25,000 which does not even get close to a living wage in New York City.
To make matters worse, home health care aides are often the sources of wage theft or deceptive labor practices by their employer and despite enhanced enforcement efforts by city regulators, employers still take widespread advantage of their employees. As the city’s elderly population is expected to be as high as 1.4 million in 2040 and add an additional 240,000 home health care jobs, a solution is desperately need to help these hard working people make ends meet.
Sadly, the lasting effects of the 2008 financial crisis means many older Americans may find themselves continuing to work low paying jobs, a reality compounded by the growing costs of healthcare and prescription drugs. Despite a recent announcement by the Social Security Administration that benefits will increase this year, the prospects for lower class seniors is not improving.
Even Americans who actively plan for their retirements may unfortunately find themselves working longer into retirement age to make ends meet. After the financial crisis, many were forced to take their Social Security benefits at an earlier age which ultimately limited the total amount they would receive throughout their retirement.