China Faces Challenges in Rural Senior Citizen Support

December 6, 2012
Editor: Liu Yunting

Vice Director of the China National Committee on Aging Yan Qingchun said yesterday that China faces great challenges in rural senior citizen support, including the growing number of elderly people whose children no longer live with them and the under-utilization of rural nursing homes.

Yan made the statement at the Eighth National Geriatric Forum in Beijing on December 5, 2012. Sponsored by the China Charity Federation and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the forum attracted over 260 heads of nursing homes nationwide, who gathered to discuss issues such as effective ways to take care of senior citizens and the challenges that China is facing in the field.

The Eighth National Geriatric Forum opens in Beijing on December 5, 2012. Sponsored by the China Charity Federation and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the forum attracted over 260 heads of nursing homes nationwide, who gathered to discuss issues such as effective ways to take care of senior citizens and the challenges that China is facing in the field. [Xinhua]

The Eighth National Geriatric Forum opens in Beijing on December 5, 2012. Sponsored by the China Charity Federation and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the forum attracted over 260 heads of nursing homes nationwide, who gathered to discuss issues such as effective ways to take care of senior citizens and the challenges that China is facing in the field. [Xinhua]


According to Yan, only 78 percent of the beds in rural nursing homes in China are occupied, with 475,000 beds still left unused currently. Meanwhile, about two-thirds of the 30,000 rural nursing homes are not legally registered and lack professional staff to take care of the residents.

The 'empty nester' problem has occurred in about 45 percent of rural families. As an increasing number of young people have left their rural homes to seek jobs in the cities, their elderly parents are left behind to shoulder the burden of farm work and look after the children.

Moreover, the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that China is home to 252.78 million migrant workers, among whom more than 90 percent are temporarily employed without legal contracts. Less than one sixth of these migrant workers have basic old-age insurance, potentially posing a problem to China's future senior citizen care plans.

Attendees at the forum also pointed out that taking care of senior citizens with disabilities is another important issue that needs to be addressed. Statistics show that as of 2010, there were 33 million disabled senior citizens nationwide, accounting for 19 percent of the total aging population of China.

The number of Chinese senior citizens is expected to skyrocket from the current 185 million to 487 million, or 35 percent of the population, by 2053.

The Chinese government has made efforts to address the problem, such as improving economic and health support, building more facilities for urban and rural senior residents, encouraging them to participate in social activities and preparing to establish a medical treatment network for the aging population.

(Source: Beijing Morning Post / Translated by womenofchina.cn)

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