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Survey: Shanghai Seniors 'Generally' Happy

Although senior citizens would be happier if their family visited more often, they are generally satisfied with their lives in the city, a survey by the Shanghai Quality Association revealed on Monday.

More than 3,390 respondents aged 55 or above took part in the survey, which inquired about current living conditions and overall satisfaction in the city.

The survey, conducted last month, found that the general "happiness index" among Shanghai seniors was 77.17, a relatively high figure according to researchers.

Servers present cakes shaped like peaches - a fruit associated with longevity - to two elderly customers at a restaurant October 7 2008. It was Seniors' Day, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth month on the lunar calendar. [China Daily]

It is the first happiness survey among senior people in China. A survey in Beijing to measure the happiness of all citizens released in January said the happiness index of Beijingers was about 60 on a scale from 0 to 100, but the aged people gave a rating of 80.

What delighted the elderly in Shanghai were improvements in economic conditions, better apartments and infrastructure.

Children not visiting or calling often enough was the most common complaint and the main source of unhappiness.

About 40 percent of the group said their children seldom visited or called, according to the survey.

"With improving living conditions and increased pursuits of life quality, more and more unmarried young people live alone," Chen Xin, a specialist in aging population, said.

According to the survey, 43.6 percent of seniors are unwilling to live with their children but still hoped their offspring would visit or call often.

"My son often has to travel on business. I am slightly frightened by the fact that he has spent extended periods of silence on the phone with me when he is busy with his work," Liu Suzhi, a recent retiree, said.

She said her son moved out two years ago because of his new job.

Chen said: "Young people, especially those married, are more concerned about their own lives and ignore feelings of their aging parents."

Medical insurance is still a vital crutch for seniors because other than the old-age pension, half of them have no other financial resources.

According to the survey, seniors' satisfaction with their elderly pension is 664, an average level.

Many seniors said in spite of the increased pension and government support, they weren't keeping apace with price rises.

Almost 80 percent of survey respondents said they would rather live in their own residences than in rest homes because they were unwilling to change their living habits and pay for care.

Almost all seniors who remain at home said they wanted more help from neighborhood services, including dining and laundry.

Officials said the number of people aged 60 or above will reach 3.12 million by 2010, or 23 percent of the city's total.

(China Daily October 8, 2008)

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