Medical Colonialism: The New Aging Option?

thailandAs my siblings and I watch the impact of the choice my parents made, we grapple with the realization that we don’t want to follow in their footsteps. For more than twenty years my mother told me they would make sure they did not do to us what their parents did to them. Unfortunately, because of the dementia, my parents had no idea how difficult my life became when they failed to follow the plans they had made.

I came across this story today: Some with Alzheimer’s find care in far-off nations. The husband, who is from Switzerland, shared he is considering a community in Thailand for his wife who suffers from Alzheimer’s because it is “not only less expensive but more personal.”

This statement is something my siblings and I are facing. My mother is safe and cared for, but we know the staff does not have the time to spend with those in Assisted Living that their families believe would occur.Many are very loving and well-trained, but we are all struggling with how to squelch the loneliness and isolation my Mom is facing. She won’t join in the activities they offer and without short-term memory, it’s difficult for well-meaning friends to help. My Mom’s always been a lone wolf.

I shared the story of the woman who fell on the way to change her television, and recently there have been other incidents that are disturbing in that on the surface, they illustrate the inability to provide vigilant and personal care for each resident. I truly can’t imagine that a business could really provide the type of care each resident deserves. It’s why I consider myself a caregiver, even through my Mom is in an Assisted Living facility.

I’m not sure sending off a loved one to another country is the right answer, but I’m not sure I’d mind aging in paradise. Conflicted.

Other Related Stories:

Having a Medical Advocate from fellow blogger Butch

Five Steps for a More Affordable Retirement (Huff Post)

3 thoughts on “Medical Colonialism: The New Aging Option?

  1. Kay, thanks for this article and post. I assume you are just imagining and that you are not really serious about this type of option (sending aging relatives away to foreign lands where care is cheaper.) It flies in the face of many of your other articles, where you talk about how important it is to advocate for your loved ones and to be their caregiver even when they are in assisted living or a nursing home. When staff know that relatives will be dropping by frequently and unannounced, they are bound to be more attentive to their charges – it’s human nature.

    Thailand? Really? What about the language barrier, and the cultural differences? Dementia care emphasizes the importance of structured and uncomplicated living for those with memory issues. I can’t imagine how bewildering it would be for an elderly person to land in a foreign country, thousands of miles from family, friends, and their homeland.

    My mom is foreign-born, but I wouldn’t dream of sending her back to her country of origin, unless I were to move over there with her. She’s lived all of her adult life in the U.S., and all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are on this side of the ocean. At the end of life, you cannot put a price on the comfort of having familiar, loving people and surroundings.

    Medical Colonialism is not an aging option for me or my family.

    1. Heavens no! My parents made their choice and the repercussions and issues facing our family allow for us to constantly use our problem solving skills.

      This is a hot topic I my family for us – what will we do? I have two siblings with no children. What will they do?

      I won’t choose the option my parents choose. My husbands brother lives in the city mentioned, but doubt we would leave the country. I want to be here for my kids. I thought it was an interesting option.

      Thanks for your thoughtful response.

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