The growing elderly population in the U.S., as well as in many European countries, is becoming a major social issue. As the baby boomer generation approaches Social Security age, experts are predicting great stresses on the Medicaid and Medicare systems in the coming decades. This aging population is also creating a great demand for senior caregivers, home health care aides and related positions.
Training and Licensing of Senior Caregivers
In some states a high school diploma or GED is required to work as a home health aide, and all states require licensing for various types of senior caregivers. This state licensing requires at least 75 hours of classroom training in personal hygiene, reading vital signs, nutrition and other health-related coursework as well as a specified number of hours of supervised practical training. Most employers of senior caregivers, such as nursing homes and government agencies, offer on-the-job training and ongoing caregiver evaluation programs.
Median Pay for Senior Caregivers
The pay for senior caregivers varies significantly across the U.S., with compensation being a good bit higher in larger urban areas in some states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a home care aide in 2008 was $9.84 hour, with the middle 50 percent ranging from $8.52 to $11.69 an hour. Those working in nursing and assisted living facilities earned the most at $10.20 per hour. Note that home care aides with various certifications and other job categories of senior caregivers, such as licensed vocational nurses, earn significantly more.
Typical Duties of Senior Caregivers
The duties of senior caregivers vary significantly, depending on the workplace. Most work in residential institutions, such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities, but a good many also work in the homes of their elderly clients. Typical responsibilities include helping clients with basic dressing and grooming, medication supervision, vital sign monitoring, transportation, cleaning and/or cooking.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that senior caregiver positions will grow by a remarkable 46 percent between 2008 and 2018 due to the rapid aging of the U.S. population. This demand for trained and experienced home care aides is likely to drive up the relatively low compensation for senior caregivers of all types.
2016 Salary Information for Home Health Aides
Home health aides earned a median annual salary of $22,600 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, home health aides earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,890, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $25,760, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 911,500 people were employed in the U.S. as home health aides.