Friday, November 26, 2010

NY Times: South Korea has severe problems with eldercare because of demographics; also, jobs in Afghanistan, Pakistan

Last Saturday (Nov. 20, 2010), on my “Bill Retires” blog, I covered Phillip Longman and his cover story on Foreign Policy, “Old World: The Graying of the Planet – and How It Will Change Everything” (links at that post). Today, Nov. 26, The New York Times, in its series “The Vanishing Mind: The War on Dementia”, in a long and detailed article by Pam Belluck, greets front page print edition viewers with “In the land of the aging, children counter Alzheimer’s”, link here.

The story specifically concerns the population demographics of South Korea, where birthrates are lower than in the US and where, the story says, 9% of people over 65 have significant dementia. The tone of the story becomes alarming. It’s ironic that a story like this appears just as hostility from North Korea is making the more obvious headlines.

South Korea has a long term care insurance system, paid for by 6.6% increase in health premiums. But that doesn’t abrogate the filial demands for hands-on caregiving. Even though nursing homes have tripled, they have long waiting lists, and authorities say we can’t keep building them. South Korea already has 30 million cases of dementia, and South Korea’s demographic winter problems are among the most severe in the world. So the country is training people in caregiving and recognizing symptoms, including simulating the experience.

Then the article says “So the authorities promote the notion that filial piety implies doing everything possible for elders with dementia, a condition now called chimae (pronounced chee-may): disease of knowledge and the brain which makes adults become babies. But South Korea’s low birth rate will make family caregiving tougher.”

Picture: A DC Metro ad for "Jobs that make a difference" (link) involving USAID and right now, jobs for civilian natives in Afghanistan, and (according to job listings on the site) US citizens with professional disciplines to work in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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