The need for home health aides in Marietta, Washington County and across the nation is already high.
With the aging of the U.S.'s baby boomer population, or the 78 million Americans with birth dates between 1946 and 1964, the demand for home health aides is skyrocketing and will continue its meteoric rise for years to come.
According to the Associated Press, filling more than 1 million new home care positions over the next decade will be a challenge.
Teresa Knighten of Marietta, 47, shows photos of her brain aneurysm to her home health aide Kalitta Vincent of Marietta, 26, Thursday.
The same is expected to be true locally.
"There's a critical need," said Wanda Morris, director of Interim Healthcare of SE Ohio in Marietta. "We don't have enough (home health aides) at Interim."
Joanie Yeomans, COO of Comfort Keepers of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Charleston and Clarksburg said the company has so far been able to keep up with the need in the Mid-Ohio Valley but that might become more of a challenge in the years to come.
"We can expect that it's going to get tougher as the population requiring care increases and the population available to provide care decreases," Yeomans said.
Low pay and lack of benefits play a big role in the nationwide shortage of home health aides.
According to union and advocacy groups, nearly half of all home care workers live at or below the poverty level, and many receive government benefits such as food stamps.
What's more, there is an estimated 30 to 50 percent turnover rate among home health aides, sometimes higher, noted the Associated Press.
Yeomans said their aides get paid time-and-a-half for overtime for any amount more than 40 hours per week, paid time off and have a matching 401K plan.
Interim Healthcare of SE Ohio tries to be flexible and work around its home health aides' schedules, Morris said.
To attract more people into the home health aide field in the coming years and help them advance in their careers, Yeomans said her company is providing "in-depth, intensive training programs for customer service and technical skills to help (employees) do the job properly."
"These skills are not just for entry level," she added. "They prepare people to move up professionally."
For many local home health aides, the money is important but the "feel-good" part of their job brings them great satisfaction.
"When you go into a person's home and you take care of them and they get used to you, it becomes rewarding because they give you hugs and they say 'thank you,'" said Dianna Wood of Stockport, 44, who works for Interim Healthcare of SE Ohio.
"I've stayed in home health care because it's given me a positive attitude toward the elderly and helping them," noted Christina Taylor of Belpre, 22. Taylor also works for Interim Healthcare of SE Ohio.
Larry Mincks Jr. of Devola, 35, has a home health aide who has worked with him for five years.
"She's about my same age, so it's like having a friend that comes in," said Mincks.
For Laura Bowling of Beverly, 80, having a home health aide is critical.
"If I didn't have home health care, I wouldn't be able to stay in my house," Bowling said.
Bowling wondered what life would be like without home health aides.
"I don't know what would happen to a lot of us old people," she noted.
"Home health aides take good care of me, for sure," said Patsy Perry of Belpre. "All the girls I have had have been fabulous."
One of Perry's aides has been with her for more than 10 years.
"She's a big part of my life in a lot of different ways," she said. "She's just like a member of my family."