Aging baby boomers face home health care challenge

JOHN SEEWER filed an AP report that the need for home health care aides will explode but the rate of pay ranging from $8.50 to $10.00 an hour may not attract sufficient numbers to allow elderly to stay in their own homes.

Demand for home health care workers is soaring as baby boomers — the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — get older and states (and health care managers) try to save money by moving people out of more costly nursing homes. But filling more than 1 million new home care positions over the next decade will be a challenge.

Most home health aides are paid about the same as maids and manicurists and don’t get sick days or health insurance themselves. Many who are self-employed must pay for their own gas for driving to appointments and cover their own medical bills if they’re hurt on the job.

The U.S. Labor Department projects that home health and personal care aides will be among the fastest-growing jobs over the next decade, adding 1.3 million positions and increasing at a rate higher than any other occupation. If those jobs can’t be filled, many older Americans are likely to face living with relatives or in nursing homes, which will only cost families and taxpayers more money.