The Philippines offers an affordable, compassionate, and caring alternative to an assisted living facility in the First World.
A fact of life that we all eventually have to face is that at some point, we will have to care for a parent, a spouse, or a loved one who is in need of assistance, be it physical, emotional, or both. The need can be temporary, it can be permanent, or it can be finite, but as sure as dealing with death and taxes, we will one day have to deal with assisting someone we love.
In the First World, the usual course for care would be moving your loved one into an assisted living facility or nursing home. The option of being able to live in your own home, among your own family, and be capably cared for is not usually a feasible one in a First World setting.
In the Philippines, caring for a loved one at home is a way of life. It would never occur to a Filipino to send a loved one outside of the home to be cared for. In the case of a disabled family member, the culture dictates that he or she be cared for at home.
I have known several folks from abroad that have taken the option of moving to the Philippines with a sick spouse rather than go into assisted living. For whatever reasons, moving into such a facility was not an option in their circumstances, so they chose instead to move here, where they can live in their own home together as husband and wife. In this environment, they have been able to avail of the nurses and caregivers who come into the home to live, and to give them the specialty care needed.
One gentleman I met, Hugh, had a wife with dementia. She required a full-time caregiver. Hugh did not want his wife in the health care system—a.k.a. senior citizen home—back
in America. He had had some experience before, of coming to the Philippines on business. He also knew of the good reputation of Filipina nurses and caregivers in the United States. His decision was to bring his wife to the Philippines and to set up a home for them here.
Then there are others I have met who have parents who they did not want to put into nursing homes or assisted living; they preferred to have them live with family. Unfortunately, in a First World setting, the family does not have the ability to be with the father or mother every minute of every day. In the cases of these acquaintances of mine, the adult children brought their aging or disabled parents “home” to the Philippines to live with them.
Another scenario I have seen is people who are living and attending to a loved one with a degenerative problem that requires someone watching over them constantly. There are also instances of people who are of sane mind but who have a handicap that limits their personal movement. In the First World, either of these scenarios put tremendous pressure on the family members who are the caregivers of the person who is not well.
In the Philippines, there are wonderful, affordable options to life in a nursing home or assisted living, a life where the person who is disabled can live at home with family. A parent can be with the people who care for them, living at home, and they can have many other advantages as well, such as massage therapy and physical therapy right in one’s family home. Moving an ill family member to live with you if you are retired in the Philippines makes life much easier for the individual or family of the sick person as both the sick person as well as the healthy family members are not strapped into a situation where their time is delegated to purely to caring or being cared for.
It’s a real win-win situation all around. The person who is ill gets to be taken care of with competence and compassion, and they can look forward to cheerful social interaction with their caregivers as well as with family and friends. The family members get the assistance they need to care for their loved ones, but still have the time and opportunity to move forward with their own lives. The caregivers, midwives, and nurses in the Philippines have the advantage of a good, steady job.
Even though in the First World, the cost of a caregiver is usually borne by medical insurance or social services, (which often would not cover the cost of caregivers if one is living overseas) the quality and frequency of care is often limited. In the Philippines, the cost of competent caregivers is very affordable, even without the financial assistance forwarded by insurance companies or social services. Add to this fact that the cost of the extra services, like massage therapy (US$5.00 per hour for home service) and in-home physical therapy is down right cheap by world standards.
Filipinos, particularly those in the medical field, are known around the world for their compassion. In the Philippines, there is no shortage of caring for the elderly, for whom the culture nurtures the greatest respect, or for the ill. You see elderly folks being wheeled around in the mall by attentive helpers, and they seem in general so happy as they have a friend and companion who is also someone who helps them and gives them a degree of independence as well. I do not believe that there is anywhere in the world that the elderly and the ill are treated as well as they are here by the wonderful caregivers of the Philippines.
For someone in a situation where chronic illness requires constant attendance, the option of living in this country—even if only part-time—is an attractive one.
It’s an option that sure does make sense, considering that for a basic salary of between US$100.00 (outside of Metro Manila) to US$300.00 (within Metro Manila) a month one can have a full-time caregiver or midwife living in at home. If the caregiver, who is often a nursing school graduate, is young, just starting out, and with a bare minimum of experience, the salary would be on the lower side, maybe US$100.00 to US$150.00. A more experienced nurse or licensed midwife would cost about US$300.00- US$400.00 per month in salary. Free room and board (cost of both borne by you; usually housed in a spare room at your home, with access to a dedicated bathroom or “CR” (short for “comfort room”) rather than in the maid’s quarters, and “board” would run about US$20.00 per person per week as a very substantial allowance for food/drink/minor toiletries) is the norm, as is one 24-hour period of “day off” per week.
What Filipinos do for someone who needs around the clock care is to spread the work around. Usually there are several people attending to the disabled person—not just caregivers, but also (depending on need) midwives and/or nurses qualified to insert IV lines, give injections, and the like. Often, there are also “watchers” who can be hired inexpensively, and who have no particular qualifications other than attending to the needs of the patient or providing companionship. Often the watcher is a regular maid on your household staff. The “watchers” will, when needed, call in the pros (caregiver, midwife, nurse) who might be in another room, doing something else, or taking a break.
In any event, caring for someone who is ill is a team effort within the house hold, and the afflicted person is taken care of with respect and one thing for sure is that the caregivers and nurses here give elderly folks dignity and the tender loving care that is needed to enjoy their lives.
(For qualified nurses, midwives, or caregivers, take a look at the ELRAP Index of Professionals. If you have a service or person in this field you would like to recommend, please send the information to ELRAP at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will vet your recommendation for inclusion on our Index.)