Stressed Out and Underpaid: Alzheimer’s Care Workers

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Alzheimer’s is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to the degeneration of the brain. The rates of Alzheimer’s will increase by 178% between the years of 2014 to 2060. Due to the increasing rates, those who care for Alzheimer’s patients are extremely important. As the rates of Alzheimer’s rise, there will continue to be a need for employees in care facilities in the future. Research in the past has found that those who work in healthcare jobs receive a low pay rate and that most individuals who work in these positions are women. We do not know much about the specifics to caring for those who have Alzheimer’s, it differs from caring for those who do not have the disease. Those who have Alzheimer’s require much more care and attention which can lead to more stress on those caring for them. The issue that I am addressing in this research is, workers in Alzheimer’s day care centers are not being paid the proper amount for the work they do. This can affect their job performance and the amount of care they provide for Alzheimer's patients. I am aiming to look at the question of, what are the working conditions and the quality of care at Alzheimer’s day care centers? These employees should be getting paid more for the work they are doing as their job can be very stressful and emotionally draining. Many healthcare workers are struggling with the wages they are making to meet ends. Despite the physical and social skills required, direct care workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the nation right next to fast food workers. My research was conducted at the Golden Memories Center (GMC) in Pasadena. My data collection for this study includes five interviews with employees who are currently working there, one being the current director of the program, and a retired program director. I also conducted surveys on the caregivers who take the patients to the daycare facility. Out of the thirty caregivers who take patients to the facility I was able to collect fifteen responses. Alongside these two methods I was also able to conduct observations in the facility for forty-two hours in the span of three weeks. Based on these interviews I was able to find out that the job of employees who take care of Alzheimer’s patients is extremely stressful, yet they only get paid minimum wage. Some of the stresses includes the patients having anxiety when it is almost time to go home, getting the patients to do an activity, and being aware of what the patients are doing at all times. This research will help Alzheimer’s day care centers in improving the conditions for these employees, considering there will be a need for these employees in the future.


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