In the United States, our service economy is emerging. Whereas the nation once supplied the world with manufactured goods, Americans are now more and more the brains behind those goods rather than the hands assembling them. The largest U.S. demographic to experience this shift is the “Baby Boomers,” whose needs are fostering the emergence of one new pillar of the service economy: the home health aide.
People rely on a vast number of services. There’s the waitress who pours your coffee, the stylist who sets your hair, that cab driver to take you to the airport, and on and on. But medical services, too, are just that – services. And home health aides are providing services as never before, in residential facilities and in private homes, filling a need that requires particular skills, and providing them in an affordable manner. Looking to those aforementioned Baby Boomers who’ve already begun entering retirement, America is simply getting older.
As the U.S. Administration on Aging points out, 12.4 percent of the population was 65 or older in 2000. By the year 2030, the number of Americans 65 or older is expected to be nearly 20 percent of the population, and statistics for Maryland itself in 2030 indicate 25 percent of the population will be 60 and above. When it comes to the needs of those seniors – not to mention people of any age who need assistance with the activities of daily living for various medical reasons – home health aides will be there, helping to ensure the best possible quality of life.
Notably, this particular sector of the service economy is still evolving, so an exact definition of aide is not universal. In an extremely rudimentary sense, an aide might be a freelance agent hired on an ad hoc basis to take someone with a mild infirmity grocery shopping, or who might visit a patient daily to assist with basic grooming. Or, an aide might have the skills needed to administer medications and take vital signs. Regardless of an individual’s needs, however, with 70 percent growth projected in this sector from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, chances are good that anyone looking to hire a home health aide in the future will have many options.