At age 69, Ofelia Bersabe (pictured below) is among nearly a million Americans who work as home health aides, a field that is expected to grow 38 percent by 2024, faster than most other occupations, thanks in large part to the aging baby-boom population. Already a senior herself, Bersabe works 65 hours a week caring for two elderly clients with dementia. She spends five 12- and 14-hour night shifts in her clients’ homes, providing companionship, reminders to take medicine and light housekeeping for one client, and everything from bathing and dressing to diaper changing for the other…The gratitude Bersabe’s clients show her — one kisses her when she arrives — is incredibly fulfilling, she said, but the work is hard. Dementia patients can be very unpredictable. “I have a very tame cat, and when they start to have sun-downing” — the late-afternoon confusion that can be a symptom of dementia — “I have a wild tiger,” she said. “But it’s not the person herself, it’s the sickness.” Once, when a client began to get agitated and yell at Bersabe, she sneaked around to the front door and rang the doorbell. The client welcomed Bersabe as an old friend that she hadn’t seen in a long time.
–Elise Craig, “The Home Health Aide,” New York Times