The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050, the number of people who live past their 80th birthday will be roughly 395 million, more than quadruple the current number. Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Society has found that over 80% of residents in nursing homes and assisted living care now have dementia or some type of serious memory problems. These types of issues demand constant care and considerable cost. With an increasing number of seniors worldwide and the skyrocketing costs, younger generations are looking for new options in elder care. A growing trend in elder care is to send seniors to living care facilities abroad in countries such as Thailand, where the costs of care are lower and the care is more comprehensive.
Benefits of Elder Care Abroad
The biggest reason that people are looking at elder care abroad is cost. In the United States, live-in care can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 per month. Assisted living or nursing home care can be even more expensive. In other countries, elder care costs are just as high. In the United Kingdom, cost ranges from US $3,600 to $5,000 per month, and in Switzerland elder care costs run monthly on average from US $5,000 to $10,000. However, in places like Thailand the cost of elder care runs at maximum around $3,000 per month and the level of care are much more comprehensive. At that price three or four caretakers look after a single patient, and 24-hour care is very feasible.
Another reason people are looking abroad for elder care is the culture. In places like Thailand and China there is a strong culture of caring for the elderly. China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs recently announced plans to build twelve retirement resorts for the elderly in China and Dubai. Because the idea of filial piety is considered “the first among 100 virtues” the care of seniors in these countries takes priority over almost everything else.
Potential Drawbacks of Elder Care Abroad
As some have pointed out, there are also potential drawbacks to sending seniors abroad for their elder care. The first and most important issue is safety. Regardless of the culture of the community, elder care accidents and neglect can still occur. It is more difficult to discover these types of incidents when your elders are thousands of miles away.
Another potential drawback is ensuring that the care changes effectively over time. The needs of a senior one year may not be the same the next. Face to face contact with your elders and doctors is the best way to decide what changes in care are needed, and even with electronic communication like phone calls and Skype it can be difficult to monitor care from a long distance.
The Future of Elder Care Abroad
Despite the potential drawbacks, sending elders abroad for care continues to be an emergent trend in the elder care sector. This is especially true for seniors with dementia or severe memory problems. With rising costs of healthcare for seniors and the difficulty of dealing with certain mental and health issues at home, sending elders around the world for care will be a trend that we should expect to continue to grow.