[...] Nina, 74, a home caregiver in Los Angeles who asked to be referred to by nickname only, has worked and paid income and payroll taxes for most of the nearly 14 years she’s lived in the United States. “I’m totally transparent about my work,” she says about the approximately $30,000 she earns each year often working six-day weeks on shifts that can last as long as 16 hours.
Nina finds jobs through a private homecare company, and her work often includes inserting feeding tubes and catheters for clients, bathing them, and lifting them into bed.
Sometimes, she says, employers are outright exploitative. Nina was recently hired to care round-the-clock for an 80-year old woman who told her that she would have to spend nights sleeping on the floor in the living room. After putting her client to bed after the 11 p.m. news, Nina walked the dog. Then after sleeping for six hours on the carpet, she woke to help her client start her day. Nina was paid $100 a day, about $5.50 for each waking hour, $2.50 below the hourly minimum wage in California.
“I think I’ll be doing this forever,” Nina says in clear English she learned when she lived in the Philippines.