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Childless seniors get help

Zheng Jinran
Updated: Jun 23,2015 8:31 AM     China Daily

Beijing will create a special nursing home to care for senior citizens who lost their only child and will provide targeted services for them that researchers said should take their emotional feelings into consideration.

The No 5 Welfare Nursing Home was chosen as a pilot project to receive those seniors who become childless after their only child died because of disease or accident, the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau said on June 20.

The bureau and other departments, such as the family planning authority, have consulted experts and researchers for detailed information on the living conditions and services the special seniors group would require, according to a Beijing Times’ report on June 21.

The No 5 Home, a high-end nursing home founded in Chaoyang district in 1999, has 450 beds and can provide dining, health and entertainment services.

Current residents won’t be displaced, but the future seniors will be those who only had one child because of family planning policies, but lost that child, the bureau said.

Official statistics show that in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available, 8,781 seniors in Beijing lost their only child.

The municipal government also has released reform guidelines on public nursing homes, since these facilities must guarantee the safety of these seniors, bureau head Li Wanjun said.

“The reform of nursing homes is not a simple combination of different homes, but the need to make the best use of the current facilities to provide services for the seniors,” Li was quoted as saying.

The capital also will keep comprehensive records of the senior residents, including their health and economic situation, the bureau said.

“It’s a big step; the government has taken real measures to guarantee the rest of their life,” said Du Peng, a professor of gerontology at Renmin University of China.

There are discussions on whether it is better for childless seniors to live together or with other seniors who have children.

“When services to comfort their feelings are provided, it’s OK to try the two ways,” Du said.

Zhang Kaiti, director of the China Research Center on Aging, said he believes that separate services are better for the two groups.

Seniors who lost their children may feel huge pressure, and the government should consider their sensitive state after losing their children, he said.

“The government needs to do more research to find out what they really need deep down,” he said.

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