The last remaining survivor of the Titanic came to grips with the reality of the cost of living in a nursing home when she had to auction off her personal mementos from the ill-fated liner to keep up with the payments.
When the mega-liner sank in April 14, 1912 in the bitterly cold Atlantic after hitting an iceberg, 96 year old Millvina Dean was only 2 months old then when she was placed in a sack and carried to safety, together with 705 other survivors. In all, 1,517 passengers and crew perished in the disaster.
Among the items that were to be auctioned were rare prints of the Titanic and letters from the Titanic Relief Fund offering her mother one pound, seven shillings and sixpence a week in compensation.
But the star item in the
auction is the salvaged wicker suitcase that fetched USD18,650. The total proceeds of the sale netted USD 54,000. At USD1,500 per week for the nursing home, this does not seem enough to see her sail into the sunset quite comfortably.
Although Britain has a socialised (‘free’) health care system, private providers offer more comprehensive services for a fee. In the case of nursing homes, state-run facilities are available and cost much less than private ones but they are more spartan and offer fewer amenities, such as shared rooms and no private TVs.
In today’s egalitarian society, one cannot blame the only remaining survivor of the Titanic to live her remaining years in as comfortable manner as possible. But will all of us be able to afford to do the same, given the increased life-span of today’s adults that will deplete most of our retirement savings in no time at all?
Postscript: Millvina Dean died 31 May 2009, thus ending an era. See here for details.
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