We complain, in the west, about the state of our long-term care. At the very least we do not ship our loved ones to another country to get care.
The German statutory health system covers only a fraction of the costs that elderly people face when having to rely on 24-hour care. For thousands, cheaper nursing homes in eastern Europe have become an alternative.
|Advance Care Planning|
The village of Zabelkow in southeastern Poland - a stone's throw away from the Czech border - may seem like a desolate place, at least to western eyes. There's not much going on apart from a market where locals and a handful of Czechs buy vegetables, fruit and bread.
But on the outskirts of Zabelkow is a large, modern housing complex. Its façade reads "Rezydencja dla Seniorow," or "pensioners' residence." It's here that many elderly Germans have taken up residence, hundreds of miles from home.
By PAM BELLUCK (NYT)
The most rigorous study to date of how much it costs to care for Americans with dementia found that the financial burden is at least as high as that for either heart disease or cancer, and is probably higher.
Germany is facing a nursing shortage: 40,000 specialists are urgently needed now, and that figure is expected to jump to 110,000 in the foreseeable future. To make up the shortfall, Germany is looking to China. (17.10.2012)
According to Germany's Federal Statistical Office, there are approximately 2.3 million people in need of care in Germany, 83 percent of them over the age of 65, a third of them 85 or older.
Nursing care provided by family members has dropped, and social change, lower birth rates and a higher proportion of elderly in the population has led to the increasing institutionalization of care for the elderly. Today, already 40,000 skilled workers are lacking in the nursing profession, and by 2020 the Federal Employment Agency expects that number to rise by another 70,000.