Elder Healthcare

No training for in-home caregivers

Aug 26, 2015
Heidi de Marco/KHN

Born just a year apart, Oliver Massengale and his brother Charles grew up together. Now, in a two-story home in Compton, California, they are growing old together. But Charles Massengale, 71, can do little on his own.

The former tree trimmer has severe brain damage from a 30-foot fall, as well as dementia, diabetes and high blood pressure. Six years ago, Oliver took over as his brother’s full-time caregiver, paid about $10 an hour by the state.

It was not a job he was trained to do.

photo courtesy of http://sfcmc.org/

Miguel Garcia has tears in his eyes while he’s singing a an old Righteous Brothers tune. This song brings back memories. He’s wearing a red Manchester United jersey, navy blue track pants and bright green flip flops.  Sixty one year old Garcia is  used to having a microphone in front of him, so he begins belting out a medley of his favorite songs. He says that his past was at times, well, unhealthy.

Visakha Som

There are over 40 million people over the age of 65 in the US today. According to the census bureau, that number is going to double by mid-century. While the senior citizen population grows, the country’s economic health is declining, which brings up questions: How will we care for the elderly? How will we ensure they are fed, clothed, and sheltered?

Are lesbian, gay and transgender seniors getting proper and respectful care in nursing homes, day-care centers and in their own homes?  A groundbreaking state-funded survey in Alameda County showed very encouraging trends, and also room for improvement. Dan Ashbrook of the non-profit group Lavender Seniors conducted a series of caregiver trainings also funded by the state grant.