Women and the Care Crisis

The nation’s need for in-home care to assist the elderly and disabled Americans is growing rapidly; there were 35 million elderly U.S. residents in 2000 and a projected 55 million in 2020. Since women comprise the majority of unpaid takers, their advancement into the work force amplifies the need for proper in-home care for the elderly. Care recipients find it difficult to afford proper in-home care, and care providers struggle to make ends meet on nearly minimum wage. Poor quality of jobs, unpaid overtime, and the realities of abuse often lead workers to leave an agency after a few months. Since caretaking is often seen as a woman’s natural job, many feel that workers are undeserving of higher compensation. In fact, concern for the patient and a desire to negotiate proper compensation are often seen as mutually exclusive. Placing societal value in in-home care and improving job conditions would increase the supply and quality of care, benefiting care takers and recipients alike.