The Chinese are now experiencing the law of unintended consequences — their one-child policy created a downstream eldercare issue. No siblings to split the responsibility, dispersed families and a government worried about the cost of care. So they have proposed a law mandating that family members visit their aging parents at a frequency to be named, plus ‘pay medical expenses for the elderly suffering from illnesses and provide them with nursing care.”
I wonder — what is a visit — does Skype count? A phone call? How can this be verified? This was based on a very real worry by the government that the social net programs will be overwhelmed by 2020 (250 million over the age of 65). So isn’t the exact same phenomenon happening in the US? And what does it mean to the future of safety net programs if 20% of US women had no children at all?
This post really got me thinking about technology and how it’s used every day to help bring us closer together. People across the world — including seniors — are using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep in touch with distant family members. Many assisted living facilities have integrated Skype into regular activities programming for residents. Cedar Sinai Park, for example, has a Skype-ready computer lab and also offers training and tech support to residents using Facebook and Skype.
Still, tech will never replace a hug.
My mother loves watching videos of her grandchildren and viewing new photos of the little munchkins on Facebook. But all the videos in the world won’t satiate the overwhelming desire to wrap her arms around those grandkids. No, tech doesn’t replace hugs. Technology is the bridge that allows us to see the smiles, hear the laughs and stay in touch when those person-to-person visits aren’t possible.