Tags: china | elderly | care

China Turns to Elderly to Care for Those Even Older

By    |   Monday, 03 Jun 2013 11:34 AM

A new trend in elder care is taking hold in rural China, where villagers in their 60s and 70s are assuming a major role in caring for more elderly neighbors, according to The Washington Post.
 
In Qiantun, a village in northern China, 68-year-old Zhang Guosheng spends his days caring for an 81-year-old neighbor — keeping him company, bringing meals to his bed and washing his clothes.

Zhang will likely continue this routine until he himself needs this very type of care. “Living here is better than staying home alone,” he says. “We help each other and share a common language.”

Caring for the elderly is becoming an increasing challenge for China, where the population has been rapidly graying. According to the nation’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, one of every four Chinese will be more than 60 years old by 2030. 

In previous generations, the Chinese looked to children and grandchildren to look after their parents and grandparents. But the younger villagers who used to play these roles have flocked to the nation’s growing cities looking for work as part of the country’s urbanization drive. To fill the gap, elderly Chinese in rural areas are playing the role of caregivers.

“Migrants to urban areas are mainly young adults, leaving mostly the elderly in villages with children,” Wang Dewen of the World Bank’s Beijing office told the Post.  “The formal elder-care system in rural areas is very weak, and basically a blank spot in many places.”

More than 95 percent of China’s rural elderly still rely on the traditional practice of seeking care within their families. But the rapidly rising costs of caring for a growing elderly population will likely become a heavy strain on the government, leading Beijing to search for cheaper alternatives.

The Chinese government believes it may have found a solution in Hebei Province’s Feixiang County, where Qiantun and its 1,500 residents are located. Zhang and his neighbors participate in a self-help program called  “mutual assist elder care,” which the Chinese government wants to expand to the rest of the nation.

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A new trend in elder care is taking hold in rural China, where villagers in their 60s and 70s are assuming a major role in caring for more elderly neighbors, according to The Washington Post.
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2013-34-03
Monday, 03 Jun 2013 11:34 AM
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