LIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

The Home Health Aide Who’s Scared Their Elderly Clients Won’t Survive

The latest in our series about how this pandemic affects our lives, our loved ones, our work, and our way of life

Nina Zweig
GEN
Published in
5 min readMar 27, 2020

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Photo illustration. Image sources: Dean Mitchell/Getty Images, 4x-image/Getty Images.

Life in the Time of Coronavirus is a new GEN series where we are interviewing people across the country who have had their lives upended or are experiencing the stress of the unknown.

An anonymous home health aide in the Buffalo, New York, area talks about losing work due to the pandemic and the toll it’s taken on her clients. This article was reported in partnership with Type Investigations.

I’I’ve been in the health care industry since I was 17 years old. This has been my first job and my only job. I’ve never ventured out into anything else. I’ve always loved what I do, and it’s been 34 years. I’ve worked in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I’ve done in-home care and worked in hospitals. I worked in hospice, but it got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore because I couldn’t take watching people die. That just got to be too much for me because I became attached and then had to let them go. I don’t know how to separate my feelings from my work. It’s just who I am. My joy is taking care of other people.

I work for two different agencies as an aide. My first patient, who I see every day Monday through Friday, is 97 years old, and she is awesome. I’ve been taking care of her for six years. I have another client who has cerebral palsy. She’ll be turning 68 on Sunday. I used to bring her to visit me at my home every weekend until the coronavirus came along. Now I can’t bring her home because I want her to be safe and be at home with her family. I’ve been taking care of her for about two years.

I know we’re all going through something with this coronavirus. It’s scary. The first thing clients say when I arrive is, “How do you feel?” I tell them, “If I didn’t feel well, I…

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Nina Zweig
GEN
Writer for

Researcher and fact-checker at Type Investigations. @ninazweig.