China / Society

Improvements necessary to accommodate aging population

By Xu Wei (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-07 07:42

Building better facilities for the elderly and applying high standards of care will be critical as China deals with an increasingly old population, according to an official of the International Federation on Ageing.

"What we need to be sure of is that our parents will have quality care. So there will be no neglect, no abuse and no physical or mental damage," Jane Barrat, general secretary of the IFA, said in an interview at a forum on services for seniors in Beijing.

"The standards are important because they can enable old people to feel safe and secure and part of the community at nursing homes," she said.

She also warned that foreign investors who want to tap China's market should be educated about the country's culture.

"You cannot take models from Denmark or Australia and just put it in the middle. There is a lot of education required about the cultural nuances, the expectations and way of living," she said.

Meanwhile, innovation and medical technology advancements are also critical as the country is faced with more diseases among the elderly, such as diabetes and dementia.

The IFA estimates that China will have more people with dementia than exist in the entire developed world by 2040.

"The scaling of solutions is so important. The development of dementia care facilities will be critical. We also need to support the families, because dementia is such a difficult disease to manage," she said.

Another challenge faced by the country's elderly-care sector is urbanization - movement from the country to the city by younger people - which could result in a large number of old people left behind in rural areas, where the nursing home facilities are severely lacking, she said.

"A person could be a long-distance caregiver or a long-distance child. But I think China will adapt to the changing social structure. The models of care for the elderly will adapt," she said.

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