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Old 29.10.2011, 17:05
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moving an elderly relative to Switzerland for part of the year - things to consider?

Hi,

Im trying to consider options longterm for an elderly parent who is mobile but cant be left alone at home. I am thinking of moving her to CH for part of the year (6 - 9 months) and sharing responsibility of looking after her with my siblings back home. So she would come to CH for 3 months perhaps, go home for a month etc.

- Ideally Id like her to remain a resident at home (not in CH) as all her medical records, card and history are there. But I dont want to do anything illegal in CH. Can she stay in CH like that do you think? Is anybody else doing anything like that for their parent ?
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Old 29.10.2011, 19:48
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Re: moving an elderly relative to Switzerland for part of the year - things to consid

I don't know about the legalities of it, insurance issues, etc. I don't know how "elderly" you are talking about but you should really think seriously about moving an elderly person twice a year such distances. It's difficult for the elderly to travel for various reasons both physical and mental.

Does the elderly person actually want to do this?
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Old 29.10.2011, 19:58
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Re: moving an elderly relative to Switzerland for part of the year - things to consid

Wonderful that you care - and again I have no idea about the ins and outs re legalities. Moving the elderly around is hugely disruptive and confusing- especially if they have any sign of memory/behaviour problems, linked to onset of dementia or Alzheimers- I am so sorry to say.

I know many friends who have done this - upped and moved their parents away from their roots, familiar places, etc- with the very best of intentions, but it very rarely works. I really feel for you as I spent the last 10 years of my parents lives trying to look after them from the UK (they were here in CH), trying to do my best by my teenage daughters at the time, my OH and my very demanding job- and it was very difficult. Thinking of you and hope you find a solution- but I sincerely think that unless the elderly person is fit mentally and really WANT to do this themselves, it is not a good idea. Mum or dad are very lucky to have such a caring daughter.
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Old 29.10.2011, 20:14
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Re: moving an elderly relative to Switzerland for part of the year - things to consid

Assuming you are not from Timbuktu you would get a 3 months EU visitor's visa with basic health insurance paid by your home country in any 12 month period. I think that would be a definite.

Maybe you can talk to your Gemeinde and find out if she can stay longer than 3 months on a compassionate visa?

As Odile says, the idea is nice, but is it what she wants? I know most older people like their lives to remain constant with no changes. Unless she is fluent in the local lingo she would be very isolated here.
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Old 29.10.2011, 22:56
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Re: moving an elderly relative to Switzerland for part of the year - things to consid

We looked into this a while back, and are doing so again now following the latest crisis - but the stumbling blocks for us are permits, health care, housing and ability to integrate into the new community. My in-laws are in their late 80s and in poor health; they need assistance to do most things. They do not speak German, only English.

As we are non-EU the permit issue makes it a non-starter for us. If your parent is EU that's a whole different story. I don't know much about EU permits, so I'll let others address that.

But some other things that made us think twice:

Heath care:
As others have pointed out, make sure that your parent's home coverage is extendable here (some are not), is accepted here, and is sufficient considering Swiss prices.

But also think about how different the Swiss system is from the one your parent is used to. Would your parent be able figure out the ins and outs of the Swiss system in order to get the treatment she needs, could she be her own advocate if necessary?

We worried about this - the ILs are used to a very different health care system and would have trouble navigating their way through this one - and not just because of the language barrier. While I could find them an English-speaking doctor, their expectations of the doctor/patient relationship are quite different than what is typical here. And at a more basic level, they would be unable to communicate with nurses and care assistants - all of this means that their health care needs probably would not be met.

Given that they have gold-standard health care in the US, it makes no sense to bring them here from that standpoint.

Housing: Is your housing adequate to your parent's abilities and needs? If not, can you find something that is?

Housing is another problem as my ILs cannot climb stairs nor walk more than a few meters. We looked into making the house handicapped accessible, but the neighbors told us that they would oppose our permit application. That left us with selling our house and finding something accessible for them - but a large single family home with level access where one could drive directly to the door... this simply does not exist here.

Finding them a flat in close proximity to us was out of the question as the whole purpose of the move would be to be under the same roof, so that we would be on the spot to help them.

Integration: Do you think your parent can cope with a new culture and community at this point? Would that be important to her to be able to do so? Could you cope if she could not adjust to the differences?

How can I put this... The ILs are very, very American and very proud of it. They simply cannot conceive of living another way, and at their ages they are not going to change. Adjusting to living in a communal fashion as one must in Switzerland (living in a villa or in a flat, no man is an island here) would be a nightmare for all.

Added to that they a bit doddery and at times can be curmudgeonly. At home they are known, loved, and respected for all they have done for the community over the years - people look up to them, and look out for them, help them through the occasional 'senior moment'. Here they would have no history, likely would simply be viewed as 'stupid old foreigners' and I fear treated with a degree of contempt. This is not how one should spend one's twilight years.

Bottom line, I don't think the ILs could cope with the change. They would have us, but they would lose much that is meaningful to them. It would be unfair to them to attempt a move at this point. We need to provide for them in their own home and community.

It's a tough situation, I know. I applaud you for looking for ways to make this work for all concerned - and wish you the very best.
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Old 29.10.2011, 23:08
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Re: moving an elderly relative to Switzerland for part of the year - things to consid

Meloncollie has really summed it up well.

Some friends of ours bought their elderly mother over following the death of the father - it just did not work out. She was not in the best of health and the whole experience left her depressed and unhappy - although she did want to make the move.
In the end she returned back to the UK to familiar surroundings, a language that she was more comfortable with, and the health care and doctors who she had known for years.
Of course our friends felt awful but the mothers quality of life was really suffering and at nearly 90 she is happy to have returned "home".
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