The old in China have no place to live

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 26, 2010 08:00 hrs

Beijing, Oct 26 (IANS) Many old people in China have no place to live as the country is in acute shortage of old-age homes, authorities have said.

Meng Xianping registered to get his mother into a local nursing home at the end of 2009, but he and the rest of the family - three generations living under one roof - are still waiting as the matriarch approaches 90.

The nursing home, named Evergreen, said Meng's mother is not the only one waiting for a place in the home as about 2,700 people are already on its waiting list since 2008, China Daily reported.

This phenomenon of finding it hard to locate a bed in an affordable nursing home in Beijing, not to mention elsewhere in China, is quite common.

'The nation is suffering from a great shortage of old-age homes,' said Yan Qingchun, deputy director of the China National Committee on Aging (CNCA).

Beijing had approximately 90,000 people waiting for a place in a nursing home at the end of 2009, but there were only 30,000 beds available, according to official statistics.

Meanwhile, the number of people nationwide aged 60 or older reached 167 million in 2009. That was 12.5 percent of the population, according to the CNCA.

Among the 167 million elderly people, experts estimated that around 50 percent were living by themselves, while their children sought employment elsewhere.

To make matters worse, nearly 30 million of those old people are disabled or will soon be because of illness or the natural effects of aging and are in need of care, Yan told China Daily.

'For them, a professional nursing home might be the best choice,' he said.

China has about 40,000 nursing homes with a total of around 2.4 million beds, official statistics show. And the cost has caused many who are in bad need of care to give up looking.

Beijing's response has been to look for policies that favour old age care facilities in taxes and other ways. In addition to the traditional government-owned nursing homes, privately-owned ones are being encouraged, the report said.

Nursing homes now, regardless of whether they are government supported or privately run, are mainly open to anyone who can afford them.

The state-owned ones mainly funded by the government should be public property and should be ready to help the poor with basic care and support, Yan said.

But there is a great lack of good management and supervision seen in nursing homes across the country, he said.

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