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Baby boomers at crossroads

Aging baby boomers may be creating a growth industry even as they exit the workforce

Who will be there to provide in-home care?

 In-home senior care, which some say is a recession-proof industry, has been Frieda Winn’s profession for 30 years.

“I enjoy it,” the certified nursing assistant from Vallejo said. “I enjoy meeting different people. All of them have a story to tell you.”

A new National Caregivers Association study shows more people are living longer, but there are not enough younger family members to care for them, said Sue Yannello of Senior Helpers, an in-home senior care firm.

Aging baby boomers may be creating a growth industry even as they exit the workforce.

Who will be there to provide in-home care?
 

In-home senior care, which some say is a recession-proof industry, has been Frieda Winn’s profession for 30 years.

“I enjoy it,” the certified nursing assistant from Vallejo said. “I enjoy meeting different people. All of them have a story to tell you.”

A new National Caregivers Association study shows more people are living longer, but there are not enough younger family members to care for them, said Sue Yannello of Senior Helpers, an in-home senior care firm.

New statistics show the senior in-home care industry is expected to grow by more than 12 percent this year, creating more than 100,000 new jobs nationwide, Yannello said.

This doesn’t surprise Winn, who said that in the course of her work — mostly in the East Bay — she’s cared for celebrities and the not-so-famous, and sees a growing need for what she does.

“A lot of people have to work and don’t have time to care for their family members,” Winn said. “It’s hard work and you have to have a heart to do it. But it pays good.”

Leanne Martinsen, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging Serving Napa and Solano, said having a heart for the work is only part of it.

“We’ve seen some people who have been taken advantage of by in-home caregivers, so they need to be carefully screened before they’re hired,” Martinsen said. “We can help with that.”

But, it’s true that more people may be turning to in-home helpers, she said. “The overriding desire of most people as they age, is to age in place,” Martinsen said. “When they’re able to hire or acquire services so they can stay in their homes, it’s more desirable than having to move to a more restrictive environment.”

For those who are mostly able to care for themselves and who have the means, an in-home care person can be the answer, some say.

“A lot of it is companionship,” Winn said. “Getting them to eat, taking them for a walk, so they can stay in their homes. A lot of the older people, they don’t want to go to a nursing home.”

Susan Grant of the Berkeley-based Senior Helpers franchise which covers the Vallejo area, said her industry is booming.

“We started about two years ago with eight caregivers and we have about 80 now,” she said, adding that she typically hires only caregivers with industry experience.

“A lot of people are getting older, are looking around and seeing that if they get a little help, they can stay in their homes,” Grant said. “It usually falls to the oldest daughter to care for aging parents, and they realize, ‘My daughter would have to quit her job to take care of me, and she can’t do that.’ This industry provides options.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 

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