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Battery farming grannies for profit

20/08/2013

The aging population is creating challenges and opportunities for governments and businesses world wide. One question that often comes up is “How can we deal with all of these excess old people and still make money from them?”.

Here’s how we do it in Australia.

Basically the client must put down a deposit of tens or (more often) hundreds of thousands of dollars – usually by selling their home – that is steadily depleted by care costs throughout the client’s remaining life. The leftover is refunded to the estate.

The reason the governments lets nursing home owners do this is ostensibly to address the severe shortage of beds. By handing proprietors such a massive capital base up front they can readily invest in more nursing homes.

Of course nursing home owners have no interest in bringing supply into line with demand so most of this money goes into property speculation. They say they have bought land on the suburban fringe for nursing home development but usually they just initiate ever-escalating development disputes with local government until the land has appreciated enough to be flogged for a handy profit.

Land speculation has become the primary profit earner for most Australian nursing home owners.

A newly opened Australian nursing home is like a Potemkin village. Good staffing levels, low cost building methods have not yet begun to show, plenty of activities, etc. The new residents it attracts will come with their large deposits, providing a huge boost to the capitalisation of the nursing home developer.

A ‘mature’ nursing home is full of people who have already depleted a sizable proportion of their deposit. Staff has been cut, maintenance gone to pot, that weekly bus excursion has become fortnightly, then monthly … if the bus hasn’t broken down again. The smell of nursing home is everywhere, along with the traditional hopelessness and despair of residents.

When someone dies it is a bonus for the proprietor. A new bed opens up complete with a new deposit. Even though the place is run down you can probably charge the same or greater fees because there is still a huge shortage of beds.

When euthanasia is legalised this process can be greatly streamlined.

The higher the take-up of ‘voluntary’ euthanasia in such facilities the higher the turnover and the higher the recapitalisation of the proprietor (i.e. more money to invest in his primary business – land speculation). Even the staff have a stake in replacing high maintenance, low morale long term residents with healthier new ones who are yet to be broken by the environment.

Nursing home despair becomes an asset to the owners under such circumstances.

Of course nothing like that could happen in Australia. We are a humane, democratic Western nation with good oversight and safeguards in place. Just ask the kids in our detention centres and refugee camps.

The highest maintenance and most demoralising nursing home residents are those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Under most proposed models legalised euthanasia will not initially be available to dementia sufferers. You must be of sound mind to sign your own death warrant.

Neuroleptic drugs (antipsychotics) are supposedly aimed at the heads of people with psychotic illness. They are not approved for dementia sufferers because they aggravate neurodegeneration and double their death rate, nonetheless doctors may still prescribe them off label.

Neuroleptics also make institutionalised people easier to manage. In fact that is why they were developed. They were originally called ‘major tranquillisers’ (or ‘chemical straitjackets’) and were used to control disruptive asylum inmates. The notion they are therapeutic – and the dopamine pathway models used to illustrate this theory – were only developed in the 1960s in response to civil rights laws restricting the most blatant abuse of the mentally ill.

Although numerous studies have proved the lethal effects neuroleptic drugs have on Alzheimer’s patients they are still prescribed extensively in Australian nursing homes. Last year we killed up to 6,000 elderly people with them and their use continues to increase.

We are already legally euthanising dementia sufferers ‘off label’. It will take a law change to bring assisted dying to nursing home residents who have not yet lost their marbles.

Unscrupulous Australian nursing home moguls would be well advised to vote for Dr Philip Nitschke’s ‘Euthanasia Party’ and direct preferences to the Greens.

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