Germans Search Elsewhere For Affordable Elder Care
The decades-old social welfare model built for the country's elderly is showing its limitations as a growing number choose to relocate to nursing homes in Eastern European countries.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
As Germany's population ages and the costs of long-term care grow more expensive, some are relocating east to countries like Hungary and Slovakia, where nursing homes offer quality services at cheaper rates. This phenomenon, called "grandmother export," is still relatively small, but it has led to serious debate about how to care for a growing population of elderly in an affordable manner. Berlin professor Vjennka Garms-Homolova says it's one thing if Germans choose to leave the country for care, "but [if] poverty is the cause [it's] not right."
What's the Big Idea?
Germany is one of only four countries in the world with dedicated public long-term care insurance, with employers and employees contributing to a group fund. More elderly are cared for by relatives in Germany than in any other European country, a fact that's at least partially explained by the existence of the group fund. Designed 120 years ago, it is a pillar of society that is now showing cracks as the country continues on track towards having one of the oldest populations in the developed world. "Financially, people are pushed to the limit," says Arthur Frank, founder of a Slovakian nursing home.
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