February 26, 2011

CHINA: China takes steps to cope with aging population

BEIJING, China / Shanghai Daily / National News / February 26, 2011

THE country’s growing population of elderly people is presenting an increasing challenge to the country’s social insurance system, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said yesterday.

It said that by the end of 2015, the over-60s were expected to constitute 15 percent of the population.

To improve the quality of life for its senior citizens, China is to take steps to establish a mature social security system to cover both cities and suburbs, and eliminate older people’s worries about medical care and retirement pension.

This year, the ministry is expanding the number of people who can enjoy the country’s urban retirement pension scheme. Meanwhile more than 190 million social security cards are being issued across the country, which will help elderly people pay a proportion of their medical care fees, the ministry said.

The situation is more acute in Shanghai where, up to the end of last year, people aged over 60 made up about 23 percent of the population. By 2030, that is expected to reach 29 percent, according to the Shanghai Committee on Aging. Officials say the aging population in Shanghai has been developing more rapidly than in the rest of the country.

One major problem is that the city’s seniors’ home resources are not able to cope with the growing senior population.

City officials said that more than 90 percent of Shanghai seniors will have to stay at home for the final years of their life. But the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau promises to improve services for seniors in communities, ensuring them a better life at home.

This year, the bureau will add 40 canteens for seniors in communities and 20 senior service centers, covering more than 260,000 people. Meanwhile, there will be an additional 5,000 beds at nursing homes.

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