Caregiving in the Time of Coronavirus

The first sign of the coronavirus outbreak caregiver Maria Cardenas saw was when a longtime client told her to stop coming to his home.

“He lives in an apartment building where there are a lot of people living together,” Cardenas said. “He was concerned for my health and my own immunity, so he told me not to come.”

Cardenas, a 58-year-old Hollister resident, has been a caregiver for 23 years, a profession that’s rising to the challenge of the virus with new concerns for the safety of their patients, as well as the care providers themselves.

A caregiver’s clients already include some of the most vulnerable members of the population, including people recently discharged from the hospital, the elderly, and those otherwise unable to take care of themselves.

Caregivers provide a range of services such as house-cleaning, meal preparation, running errands, transportation, help with personal hygiene, and simple companionship.

As of 2015, there are an estimated 117 million Americans requiring care, with most care being done by an unpaid family member. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, in 2017 about 41 million family caregivers in the U.S. provided an estimated 34 billion hours of care to adults with limitations in daily activities. There are currently just over 3 million paid caregivers working in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor and