Families form the backbone of rural care
The provision of long-term care insurance will be different in China’s rural areas compared with large cities.
That’s because elderly country dwellers see their children, especially their sons, as not just the continuation of the family line, but also the economic and nursing backbone.
FuMeiju is a perfect example of this tradition. The 91-year-old widow from Tulong, a small village in Chengmai county, China’s southernmost Hainan province, has rheumatism and hypertension. She is unable to work, and lives with her grandson, Wang Caiqiang, her only means of support.
During World War II, Fu suffered physical and mental torture after being raped repeatedly over the course of a month as a “comfort woman”, a sex slave for Japanese soldiers. Like many women in her situation, Fu found it difficult to conceive after her marriage at age 22, but she eventually managed to have a son and two daughters.
Her children are now adults and her husband, WangHe’an, died some years ago.
Fu was left alone after her daughters married and her son was electrocuted and died in 1991. Her daughterin-law, who was four months’ pregnant when her husband died, remarried the same year and had Wang Caiqiang, Fu’s grandson.
Fu spent a lot of time caring for the boy, and Wang Caiqiang, who married in 2012 and is now a father of two, has cared for her for several years.
Wang Caiqiang makes a living by planting rubber and other cash crops, in addition to working several part-time jobs. In 2012, he built a new house in the village and invited Fu to move in with his family to escape from the shabby, leaky house in which she had lived for many years.
“My daughters grew up and married — they had their own families and parents-in-law to care for, so I had to rely onmy son when I could no longer work. Now, I am lucky to have my grandson,” Fu said.
Now a wheelchair user, Fu seldom leaves her bedroom, so Wang Caiqiang provides care and pays for her medical treatment.
“My grandmother has neither income nor an insurance policy, so I pay all the bills. I havemy own family to support, so I can’t give my grandmother a much better life. But I amher only grandson, the only person she can rely on, so I hope I can give her the best life possible, and I hope it is a long one,” Wang Caiqiang said.
Fu Meiju, 91, lives with her grandson and his family in Tulong, a village in Chengmai county, Hainan province.