'I can look after myself better than any nurse'

08:21, October 13, 2010      

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Wu Yongqing plans to spend the rest of her life in the crumbling cottage she rents in downtown Chongqing, a densely populated municipality in Southwest China.

The 91-year-old, who moved in shortly after her husband's death in 1971, said she believes she can take better care of herself than any nurse. "Besides," she added, "I can't afford to move into a nursing home."

Wu receives a monthly pension of just 500 yuan ($75) but a decent nursing home in the city costs at least 1,000 yuan. The cheapest nearby charges more than 500 yuan a month.

"I've never thought about buying an apartment, especially after my husband died," said the elderly woman, who has no children. "A cheap rented room is good enough for me."

Her modest 26-square-meter home is the only single-story building left in a neighborhood filled with glitzy new office blocks and skyscrapers. Although the authorities have reinforced it and decorated outside with gray ceramic tiles, the cottage looks ancient in comparison.

The rental price is less than 100 yuan a month (the owner, who used to employ Wu's husband, has waived the fee since she lost her job at a glove factory), while apartments in the surrounding towers cost upwards of 6,000 yuan per square meter to buy.

"My home will be knocked down after I am gone," said Wu. "I will be the last one living in such a cheap rented room (in the area). I'm lucky."

The cottage, which comprises a living area, kitchen and bathroom, is small but spotless. Wu scrubs the concrete floor and polishes the wooden tabletop every day. Her only comforts are a broken sofa and an electric ceiling fan, which were both found on the street. She has persistently turned down offers by the community to hire a nurse to help her cook and clean.

"I'm good at cleaning and I can cook better than a nurse," said the elderly woman, who apart from a slight hearing problem appears healthy. "I'm old but I'm not useless."

Although her living conditions are far from perfect, Wu insists she is satisfied with her life.

"I like living downtown," said the 91-year-old, who walks in the nearby park every morning. "I can talk to people and have a real life. A rented room enables me to stay in the city."

Source:China Daily


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