Outsourcing Parents

Yesterday I saw a news story that combined a multitude of cultural and social issues into one story. Some of the issues that come to mind include NAFTA, healthcare and redefining the family.

Since the days of NAFTA and Ross Perot, many Americans that favor protectionism and isolation have railed against “out sourcing” jobs to other nations. I have vivid mental pictures of “that giant sucking sound” of American jobs.

Also in the 1990’s, we were bombarded with “Hilary Care.” This resulted in the lively discussion of how the government (and trial lawyers) created rising costs of healthcare and the solution was more government.

Many of us have wanted to divorce our children when they were teens, but what should they do with us when we get old and can’t care for ourselves? Should families expect to bankrupt themselves to care for the elderly in their final years? Should we rethink “Logan’s Run”?

Most people have had to struggle with these issues at some point in their lives (or will soon). Some people have been thinking outside the proverbial box and come up with a novel approach.

Why not simply do what corporate America does, let’s outsource our parents!

That’s right! Who needs astronomical rest home bills and medical expenses when we get more bang for our buck overseas. Yes, people are really shipping their parents to India for care in their later years.

India, the second most populous country on the planet and home of some of the most wretched living conditions ever known, has a five star resort to warehouse middleclass old folks.

The article on one level is absolutely funny and upon reflection says a great deal about what is wrong with our country.

Man turns to India for cheap care for parents
By Laurie Goering
Sunday, Aug. 05 2007

PONDICHERRY, INDIA — After three years of caring for his increasingly frail mother and father in their Florida retirement home, Steve Herzfeld was exhausted and faced with spending his family’s last resources to put the couple in a cheap nursing home.

So he made what he saw as the only sensible decision: He outsourced his parents to India.

Today his mother, Frances, 89, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease, gets daily massages, physical therapy and 24-hour help getting to the bathroom, all for about $15 a day. His father, Ernest, 93, an Alzheimer’s patient, has a full-time personal assistant, and a cook who has won him over to a vegetarian
diet healthy enough that he no longer needs his cholesterol medication.

Best of all, the plentiful drugs the couple require cost less than 20 percent of what they do at home, and salaries for their six-person staff are so cheap that the pair now bank $1,000 a month of their $3,000 Social Security payment. They aim to use the savings as an emergency fund or to pay for airline tickets
if family members want to visit.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a solution for everybody, but I consider it the best solution to our problem,” said Herzfeld, 56, who made the move to India with his parents, and now, as “care manager rather than the actual worker” has time for things such as strolls in the botanical gardens with his father.

With the cost of nursing homes, home nurses and medications painfully high in the United States, the elderly and their caregivers have long looked abroad for better solutions. Many families now drive regularly to Mexico or Canada to buy cheaper drugs, or hire recent immigrants — some of them undocumented — to help them look after frail parents.

A growing number of aging couples have bought retirement homes in Mexico, where help is cheap and Medicare-funded health care just a quick drive across the border.

From http://www.stltoday.com