The photos above are 2 of the 6 residences in China for elderly care operated by Cascade Healthcare, an American company that specializes in developing assisted living facilities in the U.S. and now in China and India. Cascade Healthcare provides services for all levels of care: independent living, nursing care, memory care and rehabitation therapy, the latter include physical therapy and other support activities, including group exercise activities.
In July 2019 while waiting in Hawaii for BIL’s visa to be processed by the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, California, I looked up ‘elderly care in Shanghai’ online and contacted kaijiancarecenter.com and the head of Xuhui Healthcare. BIL needed a place to live upon his return to Shanghai, and fortunately this place in Xuhui would accept him, so he went there upon his arrival at the Pudong airport on Aug. 3, 2019. It was May 23rd when BIL left Shanghai, the city he loved and where he had lived for the past 16 years. His visit to the U.S. was 9 and a half weeks rather than the 3 weeks that he intended to stay with us in Hawaii, his birthplace.
Fast Forward! It is now late September and nearly 2 months since BIL returned to Shanghai, reported to be the largest city in the world with more than 25 million people, larger than the capital city of Beijing that has a population of 18 million. With a growing aging population there is a tremendous burden in China to provide for elderly care. There are over 250 million elderly in China with over 5 million in Shanghai alone. The aging population is attributed to China’s especially low birth rate and longer life expectancy. China, like many other countries, is in an aging crisis situation as you can read in ‘Aging of China’ on Wikipedia.
We felt very fortunate that BIL could live in a Cascade Healthcare assisted living care home after learning that state-sponsored and private facilities are filled to the max and had waiting lists. Like BIL, many single elderly men and women in China, especially, have no family or children to care for them. In fact, many seniors who live with their children receive minimal care or worse, no care at all when their only child is a working person and/or has their own immediate family obligations as well.
For BIL to live at Xuhui would be a great blessing because senior care costs are more affordable in China in comparison to most of the U.S. elder care residences. In Hawaii, a comparable place like the Xuhui or Pudong facility could cost on the average, $l0,000 a month, if you qualify, but there are also waiting lists.
I nearly flipped out when I heard that in mid-August, after only 2 weeks living at Xuhui, BIL was already talking to his brothers-in-law that he wanted to leave there. Why? We were told that BIL felt ‘confined’, like he was ‘imprisoned’. Basically, he thought he lost his freedom and independence, like cooking and doing things for himself, and being free to come and go as he pleased. (Yeah, no kidding!). As a frail, 105 pounds lightweight whose wife cooked for him up until the week before she died of cancer last May 2018, I find it unbelievable that my 83 year old BIL was up to taking on a lifestyle of a footloose and carefree person.
Well, considering that BIL ended his bachelorhood around age 70 and for 13 years of married life gave up some of his freedom, it is no wonder that living in an elderly care home now cramped his style and spoiled his dreams of a life of independence.
Before he left Hawaii, I looked at the kaijiancare.com website thoroughly, contacted the administrator, and BIL read the positive testimonies of residents who lived there; he had a good attitude about where he was going to live and had no plan of any other place to live. He read about the services, care, kinds of activities that would be available to him, plus having a dietician and medical staff to monitor his diabetes, blood pressure, etc. Being a sociable person, I encouraged him to make new friends, check out the exercise room and group activities; enjoy his hobby of reading in his new surroundings, and live a retiree’s life of leisure.
During these past two months BIL ignored the most important thing he was supposed to do– which was to try to get an extension for his expiring three month Visa to remain and live in Shanghai! In his preoccupation with what he thought he was missing in the outside world, he hardly seemed concerned about the status of his China Family Visitor Visa which allowed him to be in China for only 90 days at a time. Except for one call in August and another in September, we have not been in communication, even by email. BIL said he got our emails, but couldn’t send emails because of a glitch on his iPad; none of our calls got through to him and he said he would call ‘if there was anything important to tell us’. I reminded him not to delay getting his Visa extended; I told him where to go and which documents to take with him.
Without going to the Public Security Bureau Entry & Exit Administrative Office, the department that handles visas for an extension, he would not be allowed to remain in China beyond his 90 day Multiple Entry Visa on his passport. His cousin, who sponsored him on a Family Visit Visa, and BIL himself, would be in deep trouble if he extended his stay beyond the end of October 2019. The fine for overstaying one’s visit is 500-1,000 RMB/day or $75-$150 per day; overstaying over one (1) month is 5-15 days detention camp and deportation/repatriation to home country with prohibited entry for 10 years (travelchinaguide.com)
BIL seemed to have a cavalier attitude about his situation of not showing concern or worry about starting the process of working on his Visa. His cousin who sponsored his return trip and his relatives, meaning US, my husband and myself, who got him back to China thought that if BIL couldn’t get his visa renewed/extended soon, he may end up back with us in the U.S. But that would be minus his money for his care that would be stuck in China banks! As I mentioned before, the costs for elderly care in Hawaii would be out of the question. If it costs $3,000 a month in China, it will cost $10-$12,000 a month for a similar residence and level of care in Hawaii!
In the meanwhile BIL was bending the ears of his in-laws to find a way that he would not have to live in a care facility. After two weeks at Xuhui center, unbeknownst to us, around mid-August his in-laws were looking for another place for BIL and an opening came up so that BIL could move to Pudong, the other Cascade facility in Shanghai. So after one month at Xuhui, he told the Xuhui administrator that he was going to live with one of his in-laws, but instead on Sept. 3, 2019 BIL was driven to the Pudong assisted living facility to live in a ‘high-end residential community’ and close to two hospitals, plus walking distance to big-box stores like Sam’s club and Walmart, public attractions like the Expo, Century Park and Oriental Pearl within 20 minutes drive. From the website photo it looked like BIL was upgraded to a nice hotel with an enclosed central garden. This second facility was much more convenient for his lawyer, in-laws and cousin to visit him. Surely it would be a good place for BIL now.
Up to this time which was the third week in September, we hadn’t heard from BIL for 3 weeks, but we were receiving emails from his cousin who is his legal guardian and sponsor. His cousin told us that there were no actions taken by anyone to renew or extend BIL’s Visa yet. And now it was left up to this Cousin to pick up the slack and do some leg work to find out how and what to do to help BIL.
We also learned that BIL was trying to enlist help from his lawyer to find someone to marry so he could remain in China. She said she would introduce him to a couple of young(er) women he could choose from. Another idea to get out from the Pudong Healthare center was to find a home or apartment and hire an older woman to cook and care for his needs. But BIL would still need an extended Visa. Then, there was the possibility that he could go to Hong Kong; he would just leave Shanghai for a day and then re-enter before his 90 days visit was about to expire. But Hong Kong is now a hot bed of protests and demonstrations and that is a bad idea. These were some things BIL had actually thought and debated about, none being very feasible options!
His lawyer was who was supposed to help him get his Visa extended, who also told him she would do it when he had returned to China, had done nothing yet. Then in his last phone call, BIL told us that she now wanted 5000 RMB (about $700USD) to help him.
It was getting to the end of September and there is no word from anyone if they were working on getting BIL’s Visa extended. The delay was hampered by everyone trying to help him, but no one making a move to actually start the process. Two months had passed with only a month left before BIL’s China Visa would expire… 60 days had passed and there were only 30 days of his 90 day Multiple Entry Visa.
I could not see the light at the end of this tunnel with BIL’s soon expiring China Visa, but only remember the word from God that ‘Everything is going to be alright’. He had impressed upon me to respond with these words to the Xuhui Healthcare administrator on Aug. 21, who related that BIL’s transition was difficult and BIL was not happy living there. I suggested that BIL needed some time to get adjusted and that ‘It is not about what BIL wants to do, but where is the best place to meet his needs at his age… Don’t take his foolish talk seriously.’ But BIL and his in-laws already had made plans to have him leave Xuhui Healthcare. BIL thought he was going to live at one of his in-laws house, but instead, he was transferred to Pudong Healthcare on Sept. 3rd where he has been for nearly a month.
FINALLY, on Sept. 25, last week, after BIL had been giving his cousin a lot of run around, his cousin put his foot down with strong words of ‘warning’ as he related to us a week ago: ‘I called last night and warned him again. I said that if you fail to extend your visa in China, you will be forced to return to the United States, your brother has no spare room for you to live in, nursing home (you) can not afford to stay, which will put you in a very awkward position. (Do) you also have any other ideas, (anything) everything to extend the visa. . . He accepted my persuasion (to go to the Visa department). (Words in parentheses are mine.)
HOORAY! Then late last night, Sept. 29, I got a call with a report from BIL that his cousin helped him to get a 1 year Visa extension!!! It will be processed in two weeks, by Oct. 15. They went together to the Visa department. His cousin showed documents that he was legal guardian and sponsor for BIL and presented a 1 year residential contract from Pudong. It sounded like it was easy as pie, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the perseverance and persistence of BIL’s cousin who prevailed against all odds in explaining BIL’s predicament and speaking to the officials ahead of time, then dragging BIL there to apply for an extension to live in China.
What a relief this must have been for BIL’s cousin as it was likewise a load off our shoulders! His cousin thought that at any time BIL would screw up by doing something foolish and jeopardize his chances to get his extension. What a relief for my husband and I to see BIL through this crisis situation with prayers day and night that he could remain in China. As a foreigner and U.S. citizen, Cascade Healthcare welcomes him to live in any of their residences for the elderly. And after a year, BIL will be able to extend his Visa for another year!!!
Over a month ago I was impressed by the Lord that ‘Everything will be alright’. When BIL was ready, everything fell into place and was alright!!! God gave BIL and his cousin favor with the Visa officials! Is anything too difficult for God? Luke 1:37 declares ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’. And as a final word, Romans 8:28 states ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose’. GOD IS FAITHFUL, AMEN!!!