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Aging People -- A Big Challenge for the Society

As the number of old people keeps increasing, more and more Chinese families now belong to the 4-2-1 type, with four old people being the parents of the husband and the wife, the couple themselves, and their only child.


Related investigation shows that in China, 35 percent of the families have to support four old people and 49 percent of the families in cities have to take care of 2-3 old people. If the single-child generation continue to have one child when they establish their own families, it will mean that the third generation might have to take care of 12 old people at most.


At the same time, the family planning policy makes China have fewer young people compared with the past. As a result, Chinese pension system, which relies on young people to provide financial support, is shrinking. Many people might not be able to take care of the old people in their families, the China Youth Daily reported.


The Third Forum for Presidents of Old People's Nursing Homes was held recently. At the forum, many experts expressed their concern for old people’s life. The Beijing Municipal Commission for Old People carried out a survey, in which 49.8 percent of the young people said that they had no time to take care of their parents at home. According to information from the civil affairs department, about 32.5 million old people need to get long-term extensive care. In Shanghai, some workers complain that when they ask for a leave to take care of their sick parents, the company later will find it as an excuse to lay them off. Faced with all these problems, many experts at the forum said that caring for the old was no longer simply a moral issue, for in many cases, the problem was caused by many other practical problems in society.


In January last year, Tang Guizhi, an old woman who lived alone in her home in the Shipingqiao Street in Chongqing, was attacked by her old ailment and fell down at home. Since nobody stayed at home except herself, she lay where she fell for two nights before a neighbor discovered her and sent her to hospital. However, the old woman died in hospital one day after. In fact, many old people died alone at home because no one took care of them. Related investigation shows that in Beijing and Shanghai, the number of old people living alone accounted for 34 percent and 36.8 percent, respectively, of the total number of old people families. In the Andeli Community Center in Beijing, 55.63 percent of the old people live alone. In the Kangning Community Center in Tiexi District of Shenyang, and in the Jinxiu Community Center in Xinghua District of Taiyuan, the proportions of old people living alone reach as high as 73.18 percent and 71 percent, respectively.


Many old people become disabled when they grow old, which becomes another problem in society. At present, the number of old people suffering from senile dementia increases by 4.6 million every year. In other words, there will be a new senile dementia case among old people in every 7 seconds. It is expected that by 2030, about 30 percent of the old people above 80 in age will suffer from senile dementia in China.


( April 24, 2007)

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