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Foreign enactment instructive for elder care, long-term planning

Just as the United States -- given its diverse demographics and singular social and political history -- can seem fascinating to many people in other parts of the world, so, too, does the inverse apply.

That is, developments in other nations that would seem frankly out of place here can be intrinsically interesting and even serve as a counterpoint to norms and traditions domestically.

A recent announcement by the Chinese government concerning elder law is a case in point.

In China, which has long encouraged (actually, mandated legally) a one-child policy, an unwanted consequence has been a skewing of the country’s population. That is, there is a growing tide of elderly parents without a corresponding base of younger family members to provide for their long-term care planning needs.

Moreover, that situation is exacerbated by a tradition in which the government provides very limited assistance to the aged, the expectation being that children will take care of their parents.

Well, there is a now a new law, effective July 1, that legally requires children in China to take care of their parents aged 60 and older. It stipulates that mom and dad must be visited regularly and their needs attended to. Failure to do that enables the parents to file a lawsuit or commence mediation.

In the United States, of course, parental needs can be acted upon and taken car of with a high level of assurance through timely and well-considered attention paid to financial issues, health care decisions, living arrangements, estate distribution, guardianship considerations and related matters.

There is no coercion involved in Texas seniors and their loved ones meeting and having a candid discussion with an experienced elder law attorney. Doing so, though, can serve to educate members on important topics related to aging and the provision of care. Handling those matters can go far toward instilling confidence and making senior years comfortable and rewarding.

Source: Bloomberg, "Why China is ordering adult children to visit their parents," Bruce Einhorn, July 2, 2013

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