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Gov't says the elderly should not be forgotten
( 2001-10-26 09:45 ) (1 )

Elderly Chinese were thrust into the spotlight on Thursday when the whole nation celebrated the Day for Elderly People.

Officials and volunteer workers went into the streets to provide services and consultation to the elderly.

Wang Chaohan, a retired teacher in his seventies, was especially interested in learning about nursing homes.

Wang and his wife don't need to move into one yet, but he wanted to learn more about the homes since his only son is going abroad and won't be able to care for them.

"The government is taking better care of the elderly," Wang said. "The nursing homes sound nice, with their separated apartments, around-the-clock medical services and plenty of recreational facilities."

Good communication between parents and children is crucial when deciding each other's living arrangements, said Wu Qiufeng, an official in charge of elderly's affairs under the State Council.

According to Wu, times when children have to obey their elderly relatives unconditionally or when parents have to ask for their children's permission about where to live are over.

"The enhanced self-awareness and the improved public welfare system have largely stopped the two," Wu said. "But the ever-increasing ageing population has forced us to think seriously about whether the unconditional respect children must show their parents is healthy for our society's development."

The Old-Age Work Committee under the State Council announced on Wednesday that it would insert questionnaires in newspapers to find out people's preferences for where they want to live.

"We try to ask things as specific as a particular consumption habit to get a detailed understanding of today's parent/child relationship in Chinese society," Wu said. "It will help us with future policy-making."

Also on Wednesday, the Beijing Red Cross Society issued 100,000 Help Cards to local people over age 60 listing their file numbers at the Society and contact phone numbers. So anyone who finds a lost senior citizen can dial 999 and ask a Society employee to escort the person home.

Also as part of the festival, many subdistrict offices in Shanghai took their seniors to theatres for free performances or hospitals for free physicals.

(China Daily by Tang Min)



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