Beijing helps elderly who lose only child
ELDERLY residents in Beijing who have lost their only child to death or disability can now move into a government-run nursing home where they would be cared for medically and emotionally until they die.
The first such home in the Chinese capital, which boasts 450 beds and charges a monthly fee of 2,500 yuan (S$510), will start taking in eligible applicants next month, reported Beijing Times.
More than 200 people have enquired about admission, added the newspaper.
According to a projection in 2010 by Public Interest Party, a nominal opposition party, the number of families in China consisting of "shidu" (meaning loss of only child) elderly should have grown to about two million by this time.
That is based on the calculation that every year at least 76,000 single children between ages 15 and 30 die.
But demographer Yang Zhizhu said the forecast should include younger parents who cannot conceive a child after losing their only one.
That would raise the current number of "shidu" families to far beyond two million, and this group is expected to surge in years to come, he added.
China's one-child policy since 1979 is said to have prevented 400 million births.
But the policy also means parents face the risk of becoming childless if their only kid dies young, legal researcher Yuan Jingna wrote in a report.
The rise in life expectancy also makes it more likely that parents would outlive their children, she pointed out.
Though the government has been improving laws to ensure better care for such elderly, their special psychological needs have been neglected, she noted.
"Shidu" parents are dogged by despair, grief and even low esteem, commenter Tang Yao wrote in the official website of north-western Xian city.
Setting up a special nursing home to bring together these ever-grieving parents is a positive move, as they can find comfort in each other and fight off loneliness, he said.
It is also believed that preventing them from seeing fewer families with children can alleviate their pains over time.
Beijing's special home will admit only elderly whose only child has died or lost the ability to carry out normal activities.
They will live in separate rooms each about 15 sq m in area, and furnished with modern necessities, including a television, a refrigerator and a bathroom, reported Beijing Evening News.
One floor is given to professional counsellors who will attend to their lingering pains.