Feature

Germany: Outsourcing the care of our elderly

Germans are sending their aging parents abroad.

Anette DowideitWelt am Sonntag

Germans are sending their aging parents abroad, said Anette Dowideit. With pensions flat and nursing costs rising, families often can’t afford to put Grandma in an elder-care program close to home. So over the past decade, they have turned to countries where such services are much cheaper—mostly in former Eastern bloc states like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary, but sometimes as far away as Spain or even Thailand. Many nursing homes in these countries are now entirely dedicated to Western European patients, and some are even run by Germans. “You could argue that more and more Germans are simply deporting their parents and then forgetting them.” But the children who choose this option don’t see it that way: In their view, Mom and Dad are getting a level of care that would be unaffordable at home. It’s true that there are fewer visits from the kids, but patients with dementia don’t notice. Given Germany’s aging demographic, we can expect the trend to continue even after the European economy recovers. It may even make financial sense “for Germany’s social system to contract with foreign care homes,” where nursing costs are far lower. By 2050, one in every 15 Germans will be receiving care, and our country just can’t house them all.

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