By Kathy Finley, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors
My husband and I decided to do a retirement fact finding trip to Panama. We did a fair amount of research and found Panama to be quite welcoming to US citizens. Panama has improved their infrastructure, uses US dollar currency and, although Spanish is the primary language, many speak better English than I speak Spanish. We talked to expatriates from the US and the UK about health insurance, assisted living, in-home care and more. We were concentrating on the cooler mountain area of Boquete. It is a small town that has become a magnet for expats around the world.
I met Sandra at a weekly market. She used to live in Western Washington and moved to Boquete in 2005. She told us that there is a great need for senior care just for the expats themselves. Let me explain the scenario; adult children decide to move to Panama in their 50’s and 60’s, and then realize that their parents back home need help and can’t afford it. They move mom and dad to Panama, and then realize after a few years that they are the main caregivers, with little support available to them. With the second scenario, the parents retire to Panama and then their adult children decide that they cannot afford to live in the US or UK, and move in with mom and dad. Yes, they then realize after a time that they are the caregivers to mom and dad, which they had not bargained for.
In the small town of Boquete there is one assisted living community that opened in 2017, but it is only licensed for 10 residents in shared rooms. In-home care is much more plentiful and options that are available can either be part-time or live-in care. The up-side to this situation is that the cost of care for your loved ones is about 1/3 of the cost in the US, so it pays to do some research wherever you want to retire to, both domestically and abroad, for yourself and your parents.