My mother retired to Spain for a better quality of life

  • My mother moved from the United States to Andalusia, Spain after her retirement.
  • We haven’t had to pay more than $3 for prescriptions and we’ve never received any doctor’s bills.
  • People in Andalusia are patient with her and ask me questions about her when she is not with me.

At 40, I hijacked a writing career based in Los Angeles to join my 73-year-old mother in a village in southern Spain. Even though she and I have always been close, we tend to argue about everyday things. Moving with my partner to a foreign country to be with her was a personal and professional risk, even as a temporary arrangement.

I have seen the advantage of living in a country that values ​​its elderly population

A report titled “Filling the Geriatric Gap” estimated that nearly one in five Americans would be over the age of 65 between 2010 and 2030. The author posed an important question: “Is America’s healthcare system prepared for a ageing population ?

The question was still relevant in 1998, when my mother retired at the age of 60 as president of an art school in Philadelphia and decided to branch out as a consultant for international programs. . Her pension and some small investments would serve as income until she could take her Social Security distribution.

She had the opportunity to share a timeshare in Andalucia, and in 1998 this led her to pack her bags and leave the United States altogether. I do not remember having spoken with her about this decision. I am her only child and had not considered the logistics of traveling abroad to see her.

The move was final for her. My partner and I spent a few years traveling between Los Angeles and Spain, but ultimately decided to settle in Spain. For us, the move is also permanent. We all live on the same property but in different houses.

I worried about her in a foreign land alone

Spain’s national health system is based on the principles of “universality, free access, equity and equity in financing” and covers 99.1% of the population, the World Organization’s website says of health. As a legal resident, my mother relies on this resource like any citizen of Spanish origin.

The author and his mom posing for an ohoto

The author and his mother in a health center.

Courtesy of the author.

When something goes wrong, we go to the “consultorio” – a local medical center where she talks to a doctor about her medications or other health issues. We pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy using his medical card and pay no more than $2 or $3 per visit.

If she needs a specialist, the consultorio requests an appointment. In an emergency, we would be sent to the hospital, where his information would already be in the admissions and treatment system.

We never received a bill for a doctor, MRI or other diagnostic service or hospital visit

Andalusian culture values ​​its aging citizens. At every social event, grandparents are as engaged in the festivities as anyone else. When my mother’s cane falls on the ground, at least two people bend over backwards to pick it up. The traders are patient as she methodically puts her money into her wallet. The bus driver gets up from his seat to help him up the stairs. Neighbors stop to talk about his works. In town, I am regularly asked: “How is your mother?”

I rarely worry about her, which is important as a freelance writer working remotely

Although my mother had a successful career and financial resources, I doubt she would have had the same quality of life if she had stayed in the United States. She falls into what AARP calls “the gigantic middle,” Americans whose resources make them ineligible for Medicaid but who aren’t wealthy enough to bear the long-term, ongoing costs of health care as they go. age. In Spain, my mother lives well on her monthly social security payments thanks to the universal health system, and I can be sure that she has fruitful golden years as a mother and friend.

Michelle Cutler is an essayist and screenwriter based in southern Spain with her partner, mother and dog, Ragazzo.

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