sharing and caring

You can tell a lot about a society by how they treat their aged and their dead. When I’ve travelled into other countries I often like to see what are the cemeteries like – how are old people looked after. I’m afraid – I’m ashamed – I’m disgusted – that New Zealand doesn’t have a very good treatment of the aged. If you’re planning on moving here because you’re a smart you thing and you figure retirement is forever away, and we’re really nice people; hello – after all, Lord of the Rings… make sure you find somewhere else to spend your dotage.

Recently my Mum had a slight fall, and had required some extra care to help her recover. She’s 90, things don’t heal as fast when you’re older. Mum’s very sharp, but she needs some help to recover physically. So, staying in the hospital is out of the question, they can’t deal with any long term stayers. So mum is moved off to a rest home for respite care. This costs $770 per week (that’s $40,000 per year), plus expenses. In New Zealand we have a compulsory tax/insurance – we call it Accident Compensation. Mum has run a business for years, and paid into to this tax system. She’s also on an age benefit – a pension – as you do when you’re 90. Because Mum cannot continue with her business we’ve wrapped it up for her. Oh, the compensation she gets for the respite care? $14/day – this is what she would receive given the extent of her injury if she was at home and someone came in to give her a shower or wash the dishes. $98/week. As Mum is still mentally alert (merely immobilised by her injury) she’s unable to get any further assistance, and so the balance of the weekly fee must be found by her – or, in this case, by us. As it happens, we don’t have a spare $670/week in our budget.

Doctors cut, burn, and torture the sick, and then demand of them an undeserved fee for such services.
Heraclitus of Ephesus (ca. 535–475 BCE)

On the other side of town, it was announced recently that it costs $90,000 to keep someone in prison for a year. I know that the prison residents are able to enjoy television, heating and cooling, and three meals a day – much the same as Mum is able to. The big difference is I imagine the relatives are not expected to front up with the money to pay for that. I expect they don’t have to sell the family home to pay for the services.

Based on recent exploits by people now in prison, it is clear that as soon as a person starts to feel the need for some residential care they should rape and kill, or perhaps shoot and kill someone, get hit in the knee by a police marksman, and then go to jail for the rest of their natural. One of the bonuses is they can expect ACC will give them a pay out for the injury achieved.

If you don’t find the idea of doing a crime appealing, please immediately start saving $770 a week to start paying for your retirement/rest home. You must have that amount to pay for each week you intend to stay in a rest home, not allowing for inflation. Plan B is to turn into a vegetable, then the state will pay. Somehow this information doesn’t seem to be included on the kiwisaver web site. Instead the pretense is that the 4% you save now will do it. Ok, cool. To receive $770 (based on 4%) you need to have $19,250 invested. Ah, but there’s 52 weeks in the year, so, in this case you need to have invested $1 million at say 5%, ($50,000) – gives you some pocket money, and of course, the state will still continue to tax you – if you’re luck that’ll be limited to 20%. You can make up the shortfall perhaps with a cleaning job, serving at a fast food place or something. And, of course, if you have a partner, you better make sure they’ve got the same – the mill, and a job on the side, because if you have a fantasy that the rest homes do a bulk rate because “you’re special” you should probably get over that fairly soon.

It’s grim living in New Zealand if you’re elderly and don’t have a cool million up your sleeve.

Improved social outcomes are important because they improve the quality of life of individuals, families and communities and build the foundation for economic growth and national identity. Families and communities play a critical role in improving the wellbeing of individuals. Government’s activities affect how well families and communities function. If we continue to improve what we do in social areas then we should see improvement in New Zealanders’ wellbeing.

Families – young and old focuses on providing all families with the support and choices they need to be safe and secure, and for each member to reach their full potential. Achieving this priority requires close involvement with the communities that support strong families and are in turn enriched by them.

The Ministry’s policy, research, and services for children, families, communities, and older people all contribute towards the priority of families – young and old. We provide quality services to all families, including families experiencing particular difficulties; lead government work to reduce and prevent family violence; fund and support the community organisations that provide local services; and work across government to ensure that all the policies that affect families, like health, education, and positive ageing, work well together.

Our leadership of projects like The Social Report and Opportunity for All New Zealanders, and of the Health, Education, Social Development and Justice Chief Executives Group, helps to achieve the Government goal for cross-agency action that ensures all families, young and old, can reach their potential.

Ministry of Social Development

Yeah, right. You can tell a lot about a society, not by how they talk about it, but by how they actually treat their aged.

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