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The elderly need to be respected for their efforts

By Zhou Wenting | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-25 08:50

Once, I saw an old man sitting in the yard of a nursing home alone, loudly singing a song called The Sun is Going to Set in the West Soon. His voice was filled with helplessness and sadness. I went to sit beside him and sang along, and my heart was deeply touched.

For as long as I can remember, seniors have attracted too little attention from society as a whole. For example, people may shrink physically as they get older and have a higher incidence of falls, but how many people have thought about buying a more comfortable and stable chair for their elderly parents?

By contrast, various types of products are specifically designed for infants and young children at different ages - from pushchairs to potties to tableware - and they are readily available.

We spend generously on our children, such as hiring nannies to take care of them and taking them to early education courses. When we look for a nanny for our baby, we believe that someone who charges 8,000 yuan ($1,160) must be better than a person who charges 5,000 yuan because they have a better grasp of how to read children's books and interact with youngsters.

But when we look for someone to take care of our elderly parents, we usually keep our budget as low as possible. We just want to ensure that caregivers will prepare three meals a day for our seniors, but we don't take their psychological and intellectual needs into consideration.

The differences in attitudes are obvious. The elderly were once the backbone of society and made huge contributions, so they should enjoy the fruits of the country's economic and social development as well.

However, we are not yet old, so perhaps it's hard for us to understand the bitterness of the elderly: regression in health, a handful of pills every day, not being able to catch up with developments in the digital age, and the disappearance of the old streets and favorite eateries from the good old days. Those are the kinds of lives they live and we may even live through something similar in the decades to come.

If we think about how we want to be treated when we grow old, we should start the changes today.

Fang Shiting spoke with Zhou Wenting.

Fang Shiting, 56, a professor of nursing at Ningbo College of Health Sciences in Zhejiang province.

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