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Why California needs so many caregivers for the elderly, and pays them so little

In the last 50 years, the median age for Americans jumped by a decade. It's now nearly 40, which means there are a great many people well past that age, not only ready to retire, but ready for some help getting through daily life. The demand for caregivers for senior citizens is on a long upward swing. What they get paid is not.

It's a particular issue in California, where the cost of living is high, but caregiver wages do not keep up. For one example, the average pay for caregivers in Siskiyou County is $15.50 per hour: minimum wage. Fernando Torres-Gil is Director at the UCLA Luskin Center for Policy Research on Aging. He's well acquainted with the figures, and gives us some time to understand them, and what it might take to move them.

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily talk show focused on news and interests across our region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.