News / Asia

China's Elder Care Law a Struggle for One-Child Families

China: Elder Care Law Offers Window Into Struggles of One-Child Familiesi
X
July 18, 2013 10:45 AM
A new law in China requires adults to provide mental and financial support for their elderly parents, or face fines and other penalties. The regulation entered into force earlier this month, adding new burdens on a generation of urban single children who struggle to live up to traditional standards of filial piety.
VOA News
A new law in China requires adults to provide mental and financial support for their elderly parents, or face fines and other penalties. The regulation entered into force earlier this month, adding new burdens on a generation of urban single children who struggle to live up to traditional standards of filial piety.
 
Chinese families used to live three generations under one roof, but mounting work pressure is scattering members into different directions. With the need to find jobs, pursue careers and gain financial independence, many young people leave home. Older parents frequently are left behind.
 
Generations’ Strain
 
Han Yujing, manager of the Qianhe retirement home in Beijing, says it is easy for young generations of single children to lose touch with their parents.
 
“They live in a transition time where they have both older and younger generations to look after. Here they have their work and their career. They have to try and manage elder parents, family and work, allocating the right amount of energy and resources,” he says.
 
The nursing home opened for business this year. It accommodates about 50 people whose children are concerned with giving the kind of physical and mental care that they themselves are not able to provide.
 
“Children of people living here know that, beside material needs, spiritual life is also very important,” says Han Yujing.
 
One of the main reasons families are willing to pay monthly expenses of about $650 (4,000 yuan), he says, is that they want their parents to live with dignity and without loneliness in their twilight years while apart from their relatives.
 
Lu Jiehua, a professor of population studies at Peking University, says 90 percent of older people live off their family's support. However, as the number of children shrinks due to family planning policies, there are few supporting resources for the elderly.
 
“And now we have a floating population of more than 200 million, which means there are many elderly empty-nest or old people living alone,” he says.
 
An Elderly Dilemma
 
Lu Xinling, an 80-year-old retired school teacher in Beijing, felt like she was a burden when she was living at home with her family. Her relatives had no time to spend together and she was often at home alone.
 
“The kids come back at night and we only have Saturday and Sunday to get together. The rest of the time they go to work before I wake up and come back when I go to bed,” she says.
 
Routine daily tasks, such as cooking or doing the laundry, would stir conflict within the family unit. Lu started to feel the generation gap.
 
“Those who wish to have a career and raise a family at the same time have a huge burden; they have the heart but don’t have the strength,” she says.
 
Earlier this year, Lu Xinling moved into Qianhe nursing home, after she read an advertisement for it in a newspaper. It seemed the perfect solution: there’s a hospital nearby, rooms remind her of home and she even got a discount on the monthly fee.
 
“I’m not lonely here, if I want life I just go outside and meet people, if not I just stay in my room and watch TV,” she says.
 
Lu Xinling says she has found companionship with other residents, sharing interests and hobbies and chatting about problems they face. She says she keeps in touch with her family, calling home often and using the Internet.
 
Business For An Aging Society
 
By the end of the year in China there will be more than 200 million people over the age of  60 years.  With the new law requiring adults to support elderly parents, many see a business opportunity.
 
Websites like Taobao, the online shopping platform, offer services to visit elderly parents in place of their families.
 
Since the start of this month, more than one hundred elderly care service providers have been registered on the website. They offer families an alternative way of demonstrating filian piety, at prices that range from around two dollars to more than $300.
 
However, Professor Lu Jiehua says caring for the emotional needs of parents is usually more difficult than ensuring their material well-being. Surrogate attention from external services will not make up for a lack of love.
 
“People who work in a different city send money home to their elderly parents and provide material support. But the biggest problem is when they get ill, who is going to look after them? These children live miles away. And the elders also suffer emotionally," he says.
 
And there are other moral questions that the law will not fix.
 
“The issue of filial piety and taking care of elder parents involve moral aspects that cannot be solved by enforcing a regulation,” says Lu Jiehua. “Even though the law can make a difference, it can also drift apart domestic affection, friendship and love for the elders.”
 
Earlier in July a woman in Jiangsu province was the first to sue her daughter for dereliction. A court ordered the young woman to pay compensation and visit her mother every two months.
 
Sustainable Care
 

In order to relieve younger generations from being the only ones responsible for their parents’ welfare, the Chinese government is now promoting more community and institutional support for the elderly.
 
Although many welcome the law, Lu Xinling has sympathy for younger generations under pressure.
 
“We can’t say they’re not filial. They are just unable to be so,” she says.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 19, 2013 4:58 AM
Situation is almost the same in Japan, too. Birth rate is low under two babies per a woman. Young generations go to cities to find jobs leaving parents in rural areas. Even when two generations live in the same area, they can not afford living together due to too small residence. The recent cases where two generations live together are disappointingly that the jobless young darely live with their parents relying on their pention.

One of the differences is that in Japan the feelings of filial piety is not so strong that young generations need not necessarily feel responsibility in one side and the elderly do not necessarily hope being looked after by their children on the other hand. After all, elder people are looking forward to moving into nursing homes.

I would love to know how is it in US.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid