Many retirees don't miss their old job, but some miss having a job. More and more seniors looking for personal satisfaction or a little extra money have found jobs as home health aides, one of the few fields where older workers are in demand.
By 2018, about a third of home health aides are expected to be 55 or older, according to an industry report.
"It's a terrific opportunity for seniors," says Jay Conolly, vice president of human resources at Partners in Care (partnersincareny.org), a provider of home health aides and a division of the not-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Conolly says that while seniors working as aides enjoy the extra cash, there's a fringe benefit: the satisfaction of helping others. Additionally, some of the retirees who become home health aides have themselves become isolated. "This is a way to get them back to connecting with folks their own age," Conolly says.
To be sure, the job is not for everyone. Conolly says he tries to match the demands of a client with an aide's physical capabilities, but required duties could be onerous to some. While the tasks of a home health aide typically include light housekeeping, cooking and helping clients get in and out of bed, aiding clients with personal hygiene tasks, such as showering, also may be required.
" 'This is a very, very difficult job' is what we tell people up front," Conolly says. "Emotionally, sometimes physically, it can be demanding." And the salary will not make you rich. The New York State minimum wage for home health aides is $10 an hour. Conolly says most of Partners in Care's aides on Long Island earn between $13 and $15 an hour. But for many trying to survive on Social Security alone, the extra money can help. The schedule a home health aide works can range from a few hours a week to full-time. You don't need a background in health care to be hired as an aide. "Many of our people have not been in health care before," Conolly says.
If you're interested in becoming an aide, make sure the company that hires you is licensed by New York State. As for training, companies can charge up to $100. Conolly says Partners in Care doesn't charge for training, but trainees must pay for the $20 textbook.