Some 49.7 percent of city dwellers aged 60 or above live alone, according to a recent report.
"As the country's population is aging, more old people are in need of long-term care, which includes daily care, mental support, emergency aid, hospice care and many other types of care," Guo Haoming, a senior official with the Chinese Association for Life Care, said on Tuesday.
The report from the China Elderly Work Committee Office said that as of the end of 2006, the number of those aged 60 and above was 149 million, or 11.3 percent of the population.
Guo said that service industries for the aged had started very late in China and the number of organizations for nursing and hospice care was far less than adequate.
According to Guo, the number of people aged above 80 accounted for 64 percent of the total in the hospice care ward of the Chaoyangmen Hospital in Beijing. In recent years, many older people had abandoned medical care for financial reasons.
The report was based on a survey of more than 20,000 valid questionnaires from 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
"The country should mobilize all social sources available to create a better environment of nursing care and medical treatments for old people," Guo said, adding that policy support was also needed.
(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2008)