Here’s a novel solution to the caregiver crunch accompanying the graying of the West: Some Europeans are sending their elderly family members to nursing homes in other countries where the care is cheaper. The BBC profiles Sybille Wiedmer, a Swiss woman who sent her mother to an home in Thailand, where Wiedmer claims she is very well cared for an affordable rate:
Martin Woodtli, the Swiss director of a Chang Mai care home, says his residents enjoy a quality of care and value for money that is missing back home.“You can have three or four caretakers for one person and you can organise that this is possible 24 hours. This wouldn’t be possible in Europe,” he says. […]Despite the distance, Sybille speaks to Elisabeth via Skype almost every day and visits Thailand at least twice a year.
Packing the elderly off to other countries might be more humane than putting them on ice floes, but it still seems less than ideal for them to be so far from family when they are at their most frail and increasingly debilitated. If any kind of Boomer displacement is necessary to reduce health care costs, it would be much better for the “young old” to go abroad voluntarily and enjoy a good life on the cheap while they are still relatively mobile and independent.Either way, expect a lot more strange stuff like this to appear as the elderly population rises, especially in those countries with the biggest demographic bulges. The eldercare crisis is going to push families (and the social services responsible for those without family to rely on) to try lots of different responses, some weird, some inhumane, some good. It’s important to start thinking proactively about it on a national scale so we can weather the demographic transition while maintaining ethical standards and ensuring that the elderly can age, and die, with dignity.