Tales of a ‘forgotten generation’
American author's new book offers insights into elderly people's perceptions of society in China today, and urges improving their care
Bromme Hampton Cole had earlier this month released Dragon with a Cane, the second installment in his trilogy of English-language books on China’s senior care industry, during the Oct 12 to 13 Care Expo China 2016.
This event, which marked its fifth edition this year, showcases senior care products such as fitness equipment for the elderly, rehabilitation products as well as financial and insurance services.
The American’s latest book contains eight in-depth interviews regarding how the elderly in China feel about the current aging society. All the interviewees are aged over 75 (with the exception of one where a daughter accepted the interview on behalf of her late mother) with one of them being Wang Deshun, the celebrated actor who once went on stage topless during China Fashion Week 2015.
“Each case in the book illuminates an old person’s persistence in the pursuance of his or her ideal with a reflection back in his or her own life. The profiles presented in these stories provide aged care professionals with more insights into a senior’s spiritual world and cultural life together with their perceptions of the world,” said Cole.
“The book will have a certain impact for China’s aged care industry. It will urge people to provide better services for seniors, tell them how to show true respect for an elderly person’s lifestyle and help them grasp the diverse and dynamic care required for the elderly.”
Cole, a veteran in the senior care industry with more than 25 years of experience, came to China in 2008 to explore the growing domestic market. His company, Hampton Hoerter Healthcare, has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York, and provides consultancy services to foreign companies that want to enter China.
In 2009, Cole decided to travel throughout the country to discover the different aspects of the industry and had visited senior care homes and interviewed managers and workers in numerous Chinese cities including Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chongqing and Guizhou.
Cole later started a blog to document his findings and this soon formed the basis of his first book Enter the Ageing Dragon, which was published in August 2014. The publication is believed to be the first English-language book that explores this topic in China.
The third and final book in the trilogy, Children of the Dragon, will be released in 2018, and it explores the thoughts that the younger generation have toward elderly care in China.
“The first book is a showcase and summary of the aged care industry while the second gives detailed examples of the aging population. The final book will explore the future of their offspring,” said Cole.
Apart from Care Expo, China’s leading B2B agedcare trade show, Cole also has several businesses in China, among which are iHuHuHu, a mobile health application, and WeBamboo, China’s first online volunteer platform.
Describing the current state of senior care in the country, Cole said that Chinese are more willing to spend on babies rather than on the elderly, noting how the baby care industry has been growing at a rate of about 55 percent a year since 2009. In contrast, the senior care industry has grown by just 6 percent a year in the same period.
“Although the aged care industry in China is gradually growing, the public still needs to channel more attention to the country’s forgotten generation — the enlarging aging population,” said Cole.
Bromme Hampton Cole (right) at the Care Expo China 2016.