I’ve never known my father without his wheelchair. Six months after my family immigrated to America from Egypt in the 1970s, my father was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition: peripheral neuropathy. The disease is similar to ALS and causes a person to gradually lose control of their motor skills.

When his condition worsened, my father had to stop working as a doctor. My mother sacrificed her pharmacist career to take care of him. It shouldn’t have done it if there had been a robust system of professional home care for families who needed it.

Some people can afford home care for their parents, but for many of us that is beyond our financial means. Home care was affordable, but there has been and continues to be a severe labor shortage. We couldn’t get anyone to work full-time at home.

Home care workers earn an average of only $ 17,000 a year and rarely receive social benefits, making it difficult for the industry to attract and retain a workforce. If my father soiled his clothes or bedding and had to be bathed, or if he had to be put in his wheelchair, my mother had to do it.

My father died in 2012 and my mother still lives with the health consequences of being cared for by his illness. His physical care left her with back problems. She is now also suffering from COPD; She only has one lung because she didn’t prefer her own health appointments to my father’s. The mental and emotional toll has also struck her.

My mother tried but couldn’t protect us from the severity of my father’s illness. After I grew up and understood the severity of his condition, I quit my job as a teacher to help my father. I now look after my mother all day. I would love to go back to work as a teacher, but I need to know that there is someone around to take care of my mother so she can stay home. Like many women, both my sister and I have forfeited vacations and career opportunities.

Our story is not unique. More than 50 million Americans are unpaid caregivers for adult family members or friends. The Biden government’s home care plan would invest $ 400 billion in the home care industry. The funds will raise nurses’ wages, improve their training and give them the right to form a union.

Professional caregivers are a critical infrastructure for many Americans, especially women. In my family, three women dropped out of their careers because we had no access to home care workers for our father. Almost half of the working population are women; American jobs depend on investment in the care industry.

It’s time to professionalize the care industry that millions of Americans rely on. Between the reluctance to pay of the broken health system, the shortage of healthcare professionals and the high turnover rate, it sometimes feels like a never-ending cycle of victims is falling on the shoulders of women. If Biden’s plan can make a difference in this industry, it cannot come soon enough.

Dina Yassin lives in Panama City.