Identifying needs, allocating care for the elderly

Updated 2016-11-21 12:05:49 Shanghai Daily

Amid a rapidly expanding elderly population, Shanghai authorities are working flat out to build a comprehensive healthcare system to serve the senior population.

In China, sons and daughters are growing older themselves and often find it hard to care for elderly parents. And many households with two wage earners can't provide the round-the-clock care that their senior family members require.

The number of permanent residents aged 60 or older reached 4.36 million at the end of 2015 and is expected to climb to 5.3 million by 2020. Seniors are forecast to account for 36 percent of the city's permanent resident population by that year, up from 30.2 percent by the end of last year, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

The number of people aged between 60 and 80 has risen sharply in recent years, said Yin Zhigang, director of the Shanghai Research Center on Aging.

The sharp increase is because of the baby boom that began in the 1950s," said Yin. "Shanghai was the first city in China to enter 'the aging society,' and it has a wealth of accumulated experience on how to address services for the elderly. It's an issue both the government and public at large recognize as a priority."

It helps that Shanghai is a relatively "healthy" place to live. Less than 10 percent of those 60 years or older suffer from physical disabilities, which is lower than the national average, Yin said.

Chen Yuebin, director of the senior work department at the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, said the concept of "active aging" is a watchword.

"Seniors in Shanghai live longer and enjoy better health," he said. "We don't want them regarded as a burden to society. We encourage them to think positively and remain energetic."

Shanghai plans to increase the number of senior care beds to about 160,000 by 2020 from 126,000 last year. People suffering from dementia or physical disabilities will be given priority and specialized care, according to the city's current Five-Year Plan.

Construction of senior care facilities is being accelerated.

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