Prevent Your Parents from Being Outsourced

Updated 8/26/15 1:20pm | In today's Alert1 article, we're not talking about medical alert devices for a change. Pack your bags because you're headed to Thailand. It's a land known for fantastic cuisine, beautiful islands, perfect weather and abundant 7-Elevens. Thailand has some of the friendliest people in the world and some of the lowest costs of living. For savings reasons, senior retirees often flock to this Southeast Asian country.

Thailand may soon be a potential bellwether in the future of senior care. A BBC article details a trend where European families send their parents to Thailand for retirement care. The destination offers great savings and quality improvement over American and British options. The cost of bare bones residential home care in the United States or Great Britain ranges from $3,500 to $6,000 per month. In Thailand, luxury home care can be had for just $3,000. It's no wonder that our parents may well be the next wave in a rising sea of globalization.

The BBC and the New York Times often tout some elitist trends as the new wave in senior care. I believe outsourcing care to Southeast Asia is no different. The rest of this article details why sending your parents away to long term care is not a valid option for most. There are practical, cultural, financial, logistical and emotional impediments to outsourcing mom and dad. Most of us should help our parent’s age in place rather than considering expatriation.

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Financial Pains for Seniors on a Budget

At $3,000 per month, Thai based home care still costs too much for the average American. Most Americans cannot afford $3,000 in perpetuity for their retirement villa. In fact, the median financial net worth of an American household today is just $10,890. That means most of us can only afford to send our parents to Thailand for a short vacation.

Moreover, many people are closer to zero in net assets than they are to Thailand. Some seniors have liquidated or divested their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid and guarantees free long term care. Medicaid covers long term care costs, while Medicare covers housing costs for only 100 days. 

Retirement Logistical Headaches

Flying in and out of Thailand will cause logistical headaches for many of us. A roundtrip economy fare to Bangkok costs $1,200—for one person. And, depending on which U.S. city you are flying from, the flight can reach $2,500 for my fellow East-Coasters. From Bangkok, you have to get to wherever you're going in Thailand. Not the easiest feat in the world. The visa will also prove problematic, as American citizens are only allowed up to 90 days with a tourist visa. Retirement visas are possible but only last a year at a time. Do you want to send the creature comforts of home with your mom or dad? Shipped household items may be additionally taxed with rates of 7%-20%. In the event of an unforeseen emergency, a 23-hour flight (from the East Coast) will be the longest of your life.

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Emotional Wreckage on Aging Loved Ones

Most important, our parents need our support, our love and our family. Sending mom to a tropical getaway may be intriguing for a weekend, but a permanent stay can be isolating. The cost of Thailand based home care rises higher when you factor in the cost of "missing out." You are cutting them off from other little tiny moments that make up a large possibility of memories to cherish forever. You are banishing them from witnessing first steps, baseball games, board game nights and story time. You are not off-shoring your mom or dad, you are exiling them.

We get countless testimonials from senior members who spend more time with family and friends because they age in place with Alert1 If we want to deliver quality care to our parents, we will help them age in place.

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The Better Option: Age in Place

Aging in place is a better option for our parents and for us. To age in place is to live in one's own home at any age, in a safe, independent and comfortable manner. Thailand has beaches and beauty but your dad's house has familiarity and memories. Thailand has cheaper luxury accommodations but your mom's home is her castle.

I love Thailand. Thailand is awesome. It boasts beauty not found in many places. But my mom will be staying in her own home, thank you very much.