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Community Services—a Way to Help Take Care of the Elderly

  • Author:Frank Long from Tymin
  • Source:Liu Donghui
  • Release on :2018-11-27
The old lady used to have a dilemma: her sons were too busy to take full care of her, while she hesitated to go to the nursing house.

"Thanks to the community," said 71-year-old Liu Xiuqin in the Yongfeng community of Shenyang, capital city of northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Liu's husband passed away in 1985. She brought up her three sons on her own. In Shenyang as well, her eldest and second sons were both laid off and were running about to make a living, while her youngest son lived too far away to drop in and take care of her every day.

In 2006, the old lady broke her waist and laid in bed for nearly four months.

"Although my sons and daughters-in-law took turns to take care of me, the community helped a lot," she recalled.

At that time, staff from resident committee of the community not only sent her breakfast and medicine, but helped with shopping, cleaning and cooking.

As the community applied accident insurance for them, Liu had the amount of expenditure not covered by her medical care insurance--about 500 yuan, reimbursed by half.

"The community could take good care of the elderly people," said Ding Yanhui, Liu's 38-year-old youngest son.

"I can now feel assured when I am not at my mother's side."

The community was formed in 2005. In the 3,298 households, there are 1,232 elderly people above 60. More than half of those senior people live by themselves, not with their children--a phenomenon called "empty nest" in China.

In the resident committee of the community there are 13 staff members. An additional 68 residents, all of them Party members from the community, helped take care of the elderly people. They dropped into the apartments of the latter once or twice a month to see what they need.

The community also had a team of 236 volunteers, including doctors, teachers, students and business people, who provide free services like hairdressing, cleaning, medical care, shoes and bicycle repairing, bathing, legal consultation, post and cooking to the elderly people. Regular physical examinations were conducted free of charge, according to Li Jun, director of the committee.

More than 8.3 percent of the Chinese population are above 65, and in most cities, more than 50 percent of the elderly people live without the company of their children, a group that is called "empty nest" families, said Chen Chuanshu, vice director of the China National Committee on Aging (CNCA) and chairman of the Chinese Aging Association.

"Taking care of them has become a social problem, which needs efforts of the entire society," said Liu Jitong, associate professor from the Department of Health Policy and Management School of Public Health in Beijing University.

Chen Chuanshu believed community caring services a good resolution.

"Cost of this mode is low and as Chinese people attached great importance to family and elderly people don't want to leave their home, the mode complies with Chinese tradition culture," he said.

At the meantime, it could relieve the burden of the children, he added.

However, in China, community caring system needs to be further promoted.

According to a survey by the China Research Center on Aging (CRCA), only 19.5 percent of China's urban communities polled offers food delivery services in China.

In cities, 55.1 percent of the communities could provide services to the apartments, while in rural areas, the figure was just 8.2 percent.

Lack of personnel is one of the reasons. Xiao Shouyuan, an official with the Jiangxi provincial office of the aging, said that in Nanchang, capital city of the big migrant origin Jiangxi, average number of staff in each community was just six, comparing to the thousands of households in a community.

Therefore, services of the communities were limited. But the elderly people need more.

"More attention should be given to the psychological need of senior people," said Zhang Kaiti, director of CRCA.

"Many elderly people seldom go out and their children are not with them. They are likely to have depression and anxiety," he said.

CNCA released results of a survey at the end of 2007, which suggested that in cities, 18 percent of the senior people "often feel lonely" and in rural areas, the percentage was 30.9, with 2.6 percent of the urban elderly and 4.9 percent in rural even thought of suicide.

Library and various clubs like calligraphy, painting, chess, music and sports were set up to enrich the life of the elderly in the Yongfeng Community in Shenyang.

In 2006, the adjacent Deji Hospital provided two buildings to the community to establish a health club, where senior people could receive free psychological consultation from doctors. The club now has nearly 1,600 members, with the eldest in his 90s.

But to more senior people without access to the psychological consultation services, Zhang Kaiti had a suggestion.

"While the society is calling on young people to give more care to their parents, the elderly people should help each other, trying by themselves to make their life colorful."
Young people can use some good devices to give care to their parents such as personal alarm GPS Tracker Fall detector and SOS emergency telephone
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