High Demand But Low Wages: How Workers Who Care For Aging Patients Struggle
Work as a caregiver can be physically demanding and complex, but people in the field often have to take two jobs to make ends meet. “We’re limited in what we pay because of reimbursements,” Paul Randolph, intake supervisor at Excel Home Care, tells The Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal:
Caregivers Do Double Duty To Make Ends Meet
Demand for these workers, who provide the majority of hands-on non-medical care to older adults, is strong now and for the foreseeable future because of the aging baby-boom generation, longer life expectancies and growing rates of chronic conditions. In the next decade, home-care work is expected to add more jobs than any other occupation, with an additional 1.2 million needed by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. ... Yet even with high demand and tight supply, wages remain stubbornly low. Between 2007 and 2017, inflation-adjusted median hourly wages for direct-care workers—including home-health aides, personal-care aides and nursing assistants—fell 2% to $11.83 from $12.08, according to PHI, an organization that works with the direct-care industry. A 40-hour work week at that rate yields an annual income of around $24,600. (Ansberry, 10/27)
In other public health news stories: strategies for avoiding the flu, rare childhood cancers, Alzheimer's, and conflicting nutrition research —
The Washington Post:
Want To Avoid The Flu? Wash Hands, Clean Counters, Crack A Window, Consider A Surgical Mask.
Influenza viruses cause about 200,000 hospitalizations every year in the United States. Annual seasonal vaccination is our best line of defense, but in recent years, mismatches in the vaccine can clearly limit its effectiveness. We study how the flu virus spreads between people. While we strongly encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine, the findings from our study on the stability of flu viruses in the air can provide useful information for parents, teachers and health-care officials to limit the spread of the flu in the community. By employing simple strategies to reduce the amount of the flu virus in our environment, we can decrease the number of infections every year. (Lakdawala and Marr, 10/27)
Scientists And Parents Band Together To Research Cures For Rare Childhood Cancer
Epithelioid sarcoma is exceedingly rare — estimates vary but at most, no more than around 100 cases per year. Of those, 10 percent occur in children and adolescents. For this and many other rare cancers that kids get, it takes a long time to find enough patients to test new therapies. Even worse, small patient numbers mean there's less motivation to allocate resources to study the diseases and develop potential drugs. Dozens of childhood cancers fall in this category, some so rare that few pediatric oncologists hear about them. (Landhuis, 10/26)
How An Outsider Bucked Prevailing Alzheimer's Theory, Clawed For Validation
Dating to the 1980s, the amyloid hypothesis holds that the disease is caused by sticky agglomerations, or plaques, of the peptide beta-amyloid, which destroy synapses and trigger the formation of neuron-killing “tau tangles.” Eliminating plaques was supposed to reverse the disease, or at least keep it from getting inexorably worse. It hasn’t. The reason, more and more scientists suspect, is that “a lot of the old paradigms, from the most cited papers in the field going back decades, are wrong,” said MGH’s Rudolph Tanzi, a leading expert on the genetics of Alzheimer’s. (Begley, 10/29)
The New York Times:
Confused By Nutrition Research? Sloppy Science May Be To Blame
Confused about what to eat and drink to protect your health? I’m not surprised. For example, after decades of research-supported dietary advice to reduce saturated fats to minimize the risk of heart disease and stroke, along comes a new observational study of 136,384 people in 21 countries linking consumption of full-fat (read saturated) dairy foods to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. ... Caution is in order, especially since another new study, this one a randomly assigned clinical trial, found that three weeks on a diet rich in saturated fat caused liver fat and insulin resistance to rise far higher than diets high in sugar or unsaturated fat. (Brody, 10/29)