China / Society

US researchers: Filial piety helps solve eldercare woes in China

By WANG XIAODONG (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-17 06:52

The University of Pennsylvania will promote the Chinese tradition of filial piety to help find answers to handling China's rapidly aging population through a five-year research and service plan it announced on Friday. The program also includes more frequent personnel exchanges between China and the United States.

"We've come together to make a five-year commitment to studying eldercare in China and finding innovative solutions and doing that in a way that respects and reflects the Chinese tradition of filial piety," said John Dilulio, faculty director of Fox Leadership International, a program of the university.

"We are going to do these things in a way that reflects and respects the tradition of filial piety, which is central to the initiative."

Promoting filial piety is very important to encourage families to take more responsibility in caring for their elderly, which would help develop answers to the nation's eldercare dilemma, he said.

The program was jointly launched by FLI and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, one of the world's leading schools of nursing.

Wu Yushao, deputy head of the office of the China National Committee on Aging, said with the rapid increase of the elderly in China, most should receive care at home rather than at nursing institutes.

"Family care satisfies elders with love from children and psychological comfort, which cannot be provided by other forms of eldercare," he said.

The total number of people over 60 years old in China reached 220 million by the end of last year, accounting for 16 percent of its total population, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The age group is expected to reach 35 percent by 2050, according to some experts.

Yang Yansui, a professor in public management at Tsinghua University, said an eldercare system dominated by family care does not mean elders should get all services just from their own family members.

"More community nursing facilities should be developed and their services should be better integrated with family care for better elder care," she said.

FLI will sponsor between 125 and 150 faculty, staff and students in the next five years to visit China to understand the demographic, financial, administrative, social and other dimensions of eldercare in China, Dilulio said.

The organization will also sponsor Chinese national scholars, health practitioners and other professionals and students each year in the next five years to visit the US to explore cutting-edge approaches to caring for the aged, Dilulio said.

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