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More help needed as people live longer
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08:42, February 10, 2009

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With more than 16 percent of its population aged over 60, Jiangsu province is stepping up efforts to support the elderly and ensure a happy old age for them.

About 2,000 community service centers will be built in the province this year, and 80 percent of its counties are required to have at least one retirement home by the end of the year, Governor Luo Zhijun said, adding that about 10,000 beds will be added to the rural retirement homes this year.

Meanwhile, the first provincial government-funded apartment building complex tailored to the needs of the elderly is expected to open this year in Nanjing, the provincial capital. It will have 1,000 beds and will provide not only round-the-clock medical service to the elderly tenants, but also give them a wide range of entertainment choices.

Luo said the province encourages the input of private funds into the operation of nursing homes, and will move quickly to establish a social security system in rural areas.

The number of over-60s in Jiangsu is expected to be more than twice the current figure of 12.2 million by 2040, accounting for 35 percent of the population, Gu Jiekang, director of the Jiangsu Economic Association, a think tank for the provincial government, told China Daily.

More than 14 percent of the elderly are over 80, and about 40 percent are empty nesters, he said.

This means there is more need for nursing homes where they can be better looked after, he said. The province has just 200,000 beds in nursing homes at present, figures from the provincial civil affairs bureau show.

Hu Xuejuan, a woman in her 50s from Guangyi in Wuxi, said it is difficult to find a good nursing home for her 72-year-old mother-in-law, who has suffered a stroke and is unable to take care of herself.

"There's only one in our town, which has about 1200 beds, but it's full to capacity. We either have to wait or look for a nanny instead," she said.

Source: China Daily

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