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

China Daily (USA) - - SHANGHAI - ByYURAN in Shang­hai yu­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Bromme Hamp­ton Cole (right) at the Care Expo China 2016.

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