China has just completed an investigation on the status of its elderly population. Investigating 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, the research has showed that the culture and material lives of the elderly, all over China, have greatly improved.
Taking a look at their material lives, the average income of the elderly in the cities in 2000 was four times higher than the average income in 1992. In rural areas, the average income in 2000 had increased by 170 percent compared with 1992. Their living facilities included tap water, TV, fans and washing machines. However, gas supply, telephones, fridges and toilets in the house were only added in 2000.
The cultural quality of the elderly has also improved. Illiteracy has decreased by 20 percent and various recreational and sporting activities promoted by the government and non-governmental organizations have improved the quality of their lives. More and more of the elderly come to the recreation rooms for retired cadres in their local community now. Some have even been known to learn how to use a computer.
According to the investigation, most of the senior citizens say that they are satisfied with their lives.
All of Society to Care for the Elderly
Nowadays a lot of people are more aware of the nations’ old and people pay greater respect and more attention to them than before. But experts on age point out that the elderly would enjoy greater happiness in old age if everyone was more concerned about them.
Du Chunlin is 74 years old and has four children, some of whom live abroad. After retirement, he and his wife lived by themselves, as their children all live far away. Though Du Chunlin and his wife have a better life than they had, they are lonely and often think of their children.
For many reasons now, old people, like Du Chunlin and his wife, are not uncommon. About 35 percent of the elderly families live alone.
Experts say that the elderly that are left in this way are a product of a developing society and that the key to solving the problem is to see how they want to treat it.
Zhang Kaiti, vice-director of the China Research Center on Aging says that the elderly have now higher and more special demands in their lives. First, they have to be out in society and that will help them not to be lonely. Second, children should return to see their parents often and communicate with them regularly. This is what is best for the elderly.
Another way to combat the problem of the old is to provide high-quality service for them. According to the research, 40 percent of respondents hoped that their communities could provide someone for them to talk to and someone to go with them when they hade to go out.
Zhang Kaiti also said that costs of providing this service and that of a medical service, life service and volunteer service is low but it could have a better all round effect. All-in-all a better environment for them could be created when society accepts that they need their respect and help.
(China.org.cn by Wu Nanlan February 26, 2003)