Documentary sheds light on US caregivers' salary crisis

After being forced to retire at age 90, Delores Bennet needed help. The former businesswoman was never married and had no children. So, she depended on her caregiver, Vilma Rozen, for everything.

“It’s household management, it’s home health aide, it’s a nurse, it’s running around, it’s taxi driver, it’s all the stuff together, it’s [to] be the family, it’s [to] be everything,” Rozen told of her responsibility as a caregiver.

As any loved one of a sick or elderly person would likely tell you, being a caretaker is a full-time job. Because 90 percent of people prefer to age at home, caretakers are in high demand. The problem is their average annual salary, which is only $13,000, according to Caring Across Generations.

The new documentary “CARE” follows the lives of caregivers and their patients, including Bennet and Rozen. Director Dierdre Fishel said the film aims to illuminate the importance of the job, as well as the bond that patients and their caregivers forge.

Fishel described caregiving as a physically and emotionally demanding role, and one that involves doing life-saving work in ensuring patients are well fed and taken care of.

However, the job comes without sufficient financial reward, she argued.

“It is not just a private matter— this is a public matter,” Fishel told

Fishel said a national discussion on the issue of caregivers’ salary is timely. As baby boomers age, the demand for high-quality caretakers will continue to rise. There are no simple answers, but Fishel hopes her documentary will spark debate and lead to some sort of solution.

Fishel said a reallocation of funds may be able to help, pointing to the recent death of her father.

“He was in the hospital, and they would have done anything for him in [terms] of intubation or keeping him on huge machinery costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they would not pay for him to have a home caregiver,” Fishel said.

“If you can’t feed your own family, how are going you going to stay in this profession?” Fishel asked. She hopes her film will start a dialogue about a problem that every American will have at one time or another.

For more information about the film, click here.