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Caring for German Alzheimer's patients in Thailand
More and more Germans and Swiss have their Alzheimer's family looked after in Thailand. The care there is considered to be cheaper and more personal. But there is also criticism.
Support in the north of Thailand At the moment, Thailand is making international headlines mainly because of the political unrest in the country. But far from the capital Bangkok, in northern Chiang Mai, many Germans and Swiss are dealing with completely different problems. For example, Ulrich Kuratli from Switzerland, who has to decide whether to leave his wife Susanna behind in northern Thailand or to bring her home again. The 65-year-old, once a successful painter, suffers from Alzheimer's and is currently being cared for in the Baan Kamlangchay facility ("Home for care that comes from the heart") on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, about 700 kilometers north of Bangkok.
A third of the costs Ulrich Kuratli's decision will be difficult. His wife, with whom he has been married for 41 years, would certainly be well looked after in their home country, but the care in Thailand is less expensive and also more personal than in Switzerland. The patients live in the facility in individual houses within a community, are taken to local markets, restaurants and temples and receive personal care around the clock. The costs of around 2,800 euros per month are only about a third of the amount that Susanna Kuratli's care would consume in an average home in Switzerland.
Jealous of the caregiver Her husband had given himself half a year to make a decision. Meanwhile, he lives with his wife in Baan Kamlangchay. He currently tends to leave Susanna in Thailand. According to press reports, he said: “Sometimes I am jealous”, and further: “When I shake hands with my wife, she doesn't take it, but when her carer takes her hand, she stays calm. She seems happy. When she sees me, she starts to cry. Perhaps she remembers what it was like and understands, but can no longer express it in words. "
Trend worries experts More and more people in western countries see themselves in a similar dilemma. On the one hand, the number of Alzheimer's patients is growing and, on the other hand, care costs are increasing. In addition, the range of qualified nursing staff and facilities hardly keeps pace with the development. This creates the situation that relatives often seek help in the far distance, where care is usually cheaper and, as many believe, better. Some experts are concerned about this trend. Some of them believe that uprooting can harm Alzheimer's, such as increasing anxiety. Others argue that the quality of care is more important than the location.
Thousands of Germans are cared for abroad The idea of sending sick older people far away creates a certain level of discomfort for many people. But these are not isolated cases. Already several thousand Alzheimer's patients as well as seniors with other diseases have been brought from Germany to Eastern European countries such as the Ukraine or to Spain and Greece. The Philippines is also one of the providers of affordable care facilities. Around 100 Americans are currently looking for a childcare place there, according to J.J. Reyes, who is planning a senior community near the capital, Manila.
More than 44 million people with Alzheimer's suffer from Alzheimer's suffer from a pronounced deficiency in the memory and orientation function of the brain. The first warning signs in older people are a constant repetition of the same stories, questions or wording. Declining to completely no longer exists, the completion of everyday business, such as personal hygiene and appearance, monetary business, answering simple questions and finding everyday objects. Later there is often loss of motor body functions and emotional unpredictability, which means constant care for those affected. According to the British organization Alzheimer's Disease International, there are more than 44 million people worldwide who suffer from this disease. This number is expected to grow to 135 million by 2050.
Costs not covered by health insurance As a rule, care abroad is not covered by health insurance. So it has to be paid out of your own pocket. State insurance in Switzerland would cover two thirds of Susanna Kuratli's care. However, since private clinics with top care would cost the equivalent of 11,000 euros per month or even more, the nursing costs in Thailand would be cheaper. Baan Kamlangchay was founded by Martin Woodtli from Switzerland, who had spent four years in Thailand as a member of “Doctors Without Borders” and later his mother, who had Alzheimer's, as the first “guest” (Woodtli never speaks of “patients”) in the care facility brought. 13 “guests” from Switzerland and Germany currently live there. They gather almost every afternoon in a private park for swimming, eating, and resting on sun loungers. There are also regular trips to the surrounding area.
Criticism from the German Alzheimer Society Sabine Jansen from the German Alzheimer Society criticizes that adapting to a foreign place is difficult for most sufferers because they live in a world with memories of the past. “They have better orientation in their own living quarters and in their own communities. Friends, family members and neighbors can visit them. Because of the language and cultural reasons, it is best for most people to stay in their home country, ”said the expert. (ad)
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