Thursday, October 8, 2015

In Praise of Home Health Care Aides

My wife had hip surgery two weeks ago, and I’ve been her home health care aide.  It’s given me a new perspective on the work that real home health care aides do for minimum wage, or even less.  It’s not that easy.  

To be sure, it includes the usual household chores such as cleaning, laundry, bed making, cooking, grocery shopping, dog walking, etc.  It includes them, but in the context of a person who cannot get around very well, and who needs things brought to her and done for her.  Compression socks have been the biggest headache.  It takes for ever to get them on, and it’s a pain.  I know because she yelps a lot during the ordeal.  Of course, medications have to be organized and delivered as prescribed.  Meals have to be prepared for taste buds that have been destroyed by anesthetic and physical discomfort.  All of this has to be done in the company of someone who does not like having limited mobility, being in pain, forced to endure embarrassing intimacies, and generally ticked off at the surgeon who suggested that this would be a breeze.

The next time you meet someone who shyly admits to being only a home health care aide, give them a big hug and hearty handshake.  For pennies a day they do an amazing lot of hard work.  I’m near the end of my time in that slot.  My wife is recovering speedily and will soon be back to her old self.  They do this work every day, year after year.  They deserve a lot more than minimum wage, and I hope there is a way for them to get it.  They also deserve a lot more respect from the rest of us.  That we can provide with ease.

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