Caring in Spite of Ourselves

It's the most dangerous job in healthcare.

I know this, because in 2012, I left my executive marketing job to become one of those people who might someday drive me to the grocery store or feed me or wash me. We're called care workers.

I wanted to know: Who will take care of me when I need it? Seventy million aging baby boomers are facing a shortage of care workers. One reason may be that we—care workers, not baby boomers—just got minimum wage this year. (Frankly, despite the wage hike, the stats still aren't looking good, and turnover remains above 50 percent.)

I wanted to know: What make it dangerous? What hurts?

And I wanted to know: What are they talking about when they talk about love? (What am I talking about when I talk about love?—for I've come to love my caregiving clients, too.)

In the Land of Love and Backache is a memoir of caring on the clock—of Holocaust survivors and aging leftists; of Filipino networks, dauntless refugees, and accidental caregives; of Mozart, joy, shame, poverty, largesse, and the future American seems to be making for itself.