Care for the el­derly wor­thy of at­ten­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - AN OLD PEO­PLE’S NURS­ING

home in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu prov­ince, has sought to en­cour­age children to visit their aged par­ents by of­fer­ing them 200 yuan ($29) coupons to pay for nurs­ing ser­vices if they make at least 30 vis­its to their par­ents ev­ery two months. The idea is well-in­ten­tioned but is un­likely to work in the long run, Chi­nese Busi­ness View com­mented on Monday.

According to the nurs­ing home, the coupon pol­icy works well for some. But pol­i­cy­mak­ers should be aware that most children treat their par­ents well. It is not that they do not want to see their par­ents, but the dif­fi­culty they have in find­ing the time. Es­pe­cially as many are an only child and they may live and work in places far away from their par­ents.

In most cases, the el­derly par­ents want to see their children, and the young peo­ple would like to see their par­ents, too.

But many el­derly peo­ple liv­ing in the nurs­ing home also said they do not want to in­ter­fere with their children’s work and lives.

The coupons are a good in­no­va­tion for the nurs­ing home. But they do not fun­da­men­tally solve the prob­lem. The coupons are more like a re­minder to the children to ful­fill their fil­ial du­ties rather than an en­cour­age­ment, as the nurs­ing home is an ex­pen­sive one and fam­i­lies who can af­ford to send their se­nior mem­bers there are not go­ing to com­pro­mise their schedule for a 200-yuan dis­count.

The fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy en­forced in the past decades means China will see a sharp de­cline in its provider-re­ceiver rate in the near fu­ture. By 2020, about 20 per­cent of China’s pop­u­la­tion will be over 60 years old. By 2050, the pro­por­tion is ex­pected to rise to more than 25 per­cent.

Some places in Beijing, and An­hui, Jiangsu and He­nan prov­inces have in­tro­duced a spe­cial hol­i­day for em­ploy­ees so that they can go back home to visit their par­ents. This is a good be­gin­ning to tackle the is­sue, as care for se­nior cit­i­zens is also a so­cial prob­lem that de­serves the gov­ern­ment’s at­ten­tion.

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