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Happy Labor Day

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Jackie Molloy for The New York Times

A good story that’s part of a series about one of the most rapidly expanding fields of employment:

This was in late May, but it could have been pretty much any time this year. Since mid-January, Marjorie has been Bob Dettmer’s round-the-clock caretaker. Bob is fogged in by Alzheimer’s and unsteady from Parkinson’s. Marjorie’s job is called home health aide, but the term does not begin to encompass her duties. She is social worker, housekeeper, behavioral-modification expert, dietitian, diaper changer, day planner, de facto case manager, warden and more.

Marjorie agreed to do the job for a flat rate of $160 per day plus room and board. Her workday starts when Bob wakes up, or before, and finishes after he goes to sleep, and can stretch for 14 or 16 hours or more. She works 26 or 27 days out of the month. The pay is not much — at 16 hours a day, it would come to $10 an hour — but Bob’s family is deeply grateful, and that counts for a lot.

Anybody calling for the minimum age to collect full Social Security benefits to be raised should be legally obligated to do this job for three years first.

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