|A senior citizen eats lunch beside a temple wall in Nantong, in East China's Jiangsu province. China's increasingly aging population has led to rising demand for nursing homes. Xu Congjun / For China Daily|
BEIJING - Of all the unexpected things in Chinese society, moving into a nursing home is one of the most unusual.
Nursing homes in China may appear very large and glamorous on the outside, but sometimes what's on the inside reveals a totally different picture. Unlike those in some developed Western countries, experts say many nursing homes in China are overcrowded, receive inadequate government funding, have poor amenities and are often staffed by rural migrant workers with no professional training in the care of the elderly.
Chinese people feel ashamed or embarrassed to put their relatives "away" in nursing homes, but in many cases, it is the last or only resort.
The family structure in China is changing: Women, who once supported the family at home, have entered the work force in greater numbers. Chinese society has become much more educated. People who have better jobs and busier lives as a consequence are among those who have strayed from the strong tradition of filial piety and are thus helping to create the nursing home phenomenon.
This is where East meets West. Global investors have caught on to China's boom in care for the elderly. Given the country's enormous population, this socio-demographic shift symbolizes an opportunity for companies and investors to move into an increasingly lucrative and relatively untapped market.