With long-term care costs rising—and actual care standards falling—a growing number of Germans are saving money by shipping their elderly relatives to foreign homes, the Guardian reports. Most are headed to Eastern Europe; an estimated 7,146 were in Hungary last year, along with more 3,000 in the Czech Republic, and more than 600 in Slovakia. An unknown number of others are heading to Spain, Greece, the Ukraine, and even such distant ports as Thailand and the Philippines.
Care in these countries costs as little as one-third what it does in Germany, and the quality is often seen as superior. But social welfare activists are crying foul. "It is inhumane," says the head of one group. The head of Germany's Alzheimer's society is particularly worried that dementia sufferers will be exported on the theory that they won't know the difference. They, more than anyone, require a familiar cultural environment, she explained, "because they're very much living in an old world consisting of earlier memories."