Loneliness is a top concern for China’s increasing aging population. In 2008, the population aged 60 or above surpassed 159 million in China, accounting for roughly 12% of the total. By the year 2040, it is estimated that the population above the age of 80 will reach 560 million in China. Now the aging population has become a serious challenge in big cities like Beijing.
Dongcheng District, a local community in the Chinese capital, initiated a project called “Red Glow of Sunset” this year to help senior citizens in their community. They selected some laid-off workers and trained them how to look after aged people. On July 24th, twenty such “elderly companions” started their new careers.
As part of the local community’s endeavor to tackle the aging problem, the non-profit project is aimed to help people 60-years-old and older who live without family. The government-paid helpers pay family visits, help the elderly with housework and most importantly, talk with them to kill time. Generally, these elderly helpers look after three families a day.
Mrs. Hu Yanhong is from Hepingli Community. Today her first destination is Zhao Shulan’s home. She usually walks there and it takes her fifteen minutes. It is a little difficult as the 85-year-old woman’s hearing is not as good as it used to be.
Another pair is Mrs. Xu Manqing and 81-year-old Chen Shuying. The latter lives all alone in a small apartment.
All these “elderly companions” had training sessions on how to solve psychological problems and deal with emergencies in order to do their job effectively.
There are more than 117 thousand senior dwellers over the age of 60 in Dongcheng District. The government of Dongcheng district believes that “all old people must be provided with a sense of care and security.” Undoubtedly, many more elderly residents will benefit from the “Red Glow of Sunset” in the future.