Europeans Exporting Aging Parents to Thailand

While Millennials take pride in demanding and achieving a Work-Life Balance, an increasing number of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are experiencing Work-Life Overload as they join the ranks of the  Sandwich Generation. This term was coined to describe adults who are, at once,  responsible for both their children and their aging parents.

As Economics Reporter  Tavia Grant recently put it, “They call it the sandwich generation, but the reality for many is crushed, flattened panini.”

The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050, the number of people who make it past their 80th birthday is expected to almost quadruple to 395 million – the age after which one in six people are estimated to have developed dementia.

With parents  living longer than ever before and adult children moving back home in droves, more and more workers in their forties and fifties are finding themselves in this often economically and emotionally costly situation, especially if the aging parent is suffering from dementia. According to Pew Research, “Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.”

Enter Switzerland. Some Swiss citizens are dealing with this issue by sending their aging parents in assisted living centers in Thailand,  Other overloaded workers across the European Union are now following suit. Some of them, especially those with full-time jobs, simply cannot provide the care parents suffering from advance Alzheimer’s Disease require and cannot afford to place them in really nice Assisted Living Centers or Nursing Homes in Europe or in the U.K.. These people have found that they are able to place their parents in much better facilities in Thailand.

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The most glaring downside to this is that the  children of these seniors rarely get to visit them. The Europeans justify this by noting that the parents they have relocated to Thailand have already reached the point that they no longer recognize their grown children when they visit them.

Another major consideration is the question of how these children can possibly monitor their parents’ long distance living environments to ensure that they are being well treated and not neglected or abused.

And one can only wonder what the people of Thailand,  a culture which values its elders and in which multi-generational households are the norm, make  of this trend.

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