As Michigan ages, a shortage in health care workers explodes into a crisis

By Ted Roelofs: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Living alone in a Grand Rapids apartment, 84-year-old Nancy Klomparens clings to her independence — and has the injuries to show for it.

Poor eyesight contributed to a series of falls, as she said she’s fractured her back five times in the past four years. Once a week, she depends on a home care worker to drive her to the grocery store and help with shopping and other chores.

But like thousands of needy Michigan seniors, she’s endured a revolving door of home health aides, including a couple who abruptly quit.

“It’s devastating. I depend on that help,” said Klomparens, a mother of two who has lived alone for decades.

Advocates for the elderly and those with disabilities say a long-time shortage of home health care workers has exploded into a crisis in Michigan amid the coronavirus pandemic, as aides are reluctant to risk their health for jobs that pay $12 to $15 an hour.

Michigan, which is 14th nationwide in the percentage of residents older than 65, has tried to stem the problem by increasing wages $2 an hour for state-subsidized home care workers last year as part of a budget deal that expires at the end of February.

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