Taking Care of the City’s Elderly
Senior citizens can often be seen in Beijing's neighbourhoods, and for the most part, enjoy relatively leisurely lives. Some keep an eye on their neighbours' homes or children who play nearby. Some find a shaded spot in the park and immerse themselves in a game of Chinese chess. Others choose to don a red armband and yellow cap to work as volunteers helping passers-by. No matter how they opt to spend their time, the capital's elderly population help make the city feel like home with their ever-present smiles.
For Chinese people, filial piety (respect for one's parents and elders) is incredibly important and extends to all old people. Within the home, filial piety helps make the lives of senior citizens happier and families more harmonious. Within a city, the happiness of the elderly reflects both how civilised a place is and the government's responsiveness.
Recently, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs issued updated measures on supporting the elderly and disabled in the city, in order to cover more people and provide better services. For example, the latest measures now mean that permanent Beijing residents or those with Beijing residence permits can apply for the card supporting elderly people at age 60 instead of the previous 65. Cardholders can now also enjoy discounted or free bus travel and entry to parks and scenic spots. Since the card was introduced on January 1, 2017, a total of 2.8 million cards have been produced for those aged 65 or older, and the number of cards in service reached 2.54 million by October 31, 2018. Of these, 2.18 million cardholders are permanent Beijing residents, and approximately 360,000 are nonpermanent residents. In 2018, over 1.1 million cards have been produced and issued to people aged 60– 64. It is estimated that a total of 3.9 million cards will be released by the end of 2018.
Beijing's senior citizens also enjoy favourable health treatment from the government. Since the Regulation on Home-based Care for Elderly People in Beijing was implemented four years ago, the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress has continued to focus on solving a prominent issue each year and taken measures to encourage their implementation. By the end of September 2018, the city's primary health care institutions signed up as “family doctors” for more than 1.94 million residents aged 65 and older and provided home visits for over 103,000 people. In addition, the traditional Chinese medicine ( Tcm)-based health care network for elderly people now covers the entire city. It consists of 54 hospital-based elderly care consortiums, community health organisations and elderly care service providers; Tcm-based elderly health care zones in 105 experimental units; and 1,011 TCM elderly heath care teams. So far, 680 community-based elderly care service stations have been created across the city, of which, 450 are located in urban areas. Efforts to support health care for the elderly reflect the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee and the Beijing Municipal Government's concerns over the health of its elderly residents.
Beijing is also working to upgrade the living standards of its senior citizens. On October 16, 2018, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development convened the 2018 Work Conference on Tourism for Elderly People. At the conference, a report on the development of tourism for elderly people in 2017 was released investigating, analysing and studying the current situations, demands and issues in the market in Beijing. Afterwards, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism announced that it would improve services and public facilities for the elderly in tourist resorts by creating new products and friendly environments. In the future, additional policies will also be issued to drive the development of tourism for the elderly and upgrade tourism services for them.
Today, elderly people are living happier lives and receiving more care from those around them in Beijing. The capital is truly on its way to becoming an elderly-friendly city.