As aging communities increase in China, there is a high need for services and infrastructure that are suited to their needs. Within China there are three key issues which need addressing including tradition, social inequalities and lack of resources.
The traditional way of caring for elders, based on filial piety wherein the younger generations live with and care for the older generations is becoming disrupted (Walker & Zhou 2015). With the introduction of the one child campaign this way of life is becoming increasingly difficult as one person must look after two parents and four grandparents, also known as the 1:2:4 ratio (Xu 2016). In addition to this many young people seek modern living arrangements in the city away from their parents and grandparents.
Image 1: The 1:2:4 Ratio (BBC 2012)
Currently in Australia most people aged eighty-five years and over live in aged-care facilities (ABS 2013). An opportunity for China could be to create living arrangements that allow young people to live independently while still having access to their relatives.
Within China there exists a large gap in economic status between those in the city and those in rural areas (Dong 2010). In addition to this younger people are heading into the city causing the rural environments to have a larger percentage of the elderly, This, paired with the privatisation of medical services means that it can be a struggle for the elderly to cure even a common cold due to the high rate of expense (Dong, X. 2010).
Image 2: Rural China (Forsyth 2015)
An opportunity that could arise from this is creating inexpensive medical services which can be implemented in rural areas. Another area could be to innovate cities to cater for the elderly so that they are accommodating places to live in.
Lack of Resources
With a growing number of elderly living alone comes a greater demand for community and at home care. Currently the system of community care in China is basic and generalised and there are still many communities without care causing them to suffer in both physical and mental health (Xu, B.).
Could China implement a digital care service that allows Elders to talk to their doctors as well as family and friends who live far away via a video chat? This would be similar to what is currently being implemented in Rural Australia wherein individuals contact health professionals, including psychiatrists via a video conference. In this way, the service could adapt to individual needs and ensure they get the right level of care.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, 2071.0- Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012-2013, Canberra, viewed 1 November 2016, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features602012-2013>
BBC 2012, The 4-2-1 family, viewed 1 November 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-19630110>
Dong, X. 2010, ‘Health and aging in a Chinese population: urban and rural disparities’, Geriatrics & Gerontology International, vol. 10, no. 1, viewed 1 November 2016, <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1447-0594.2009.00563.x/abstract;jsessionid=06BDCE566036AD02CAAE1462A3197C3E.f02t04>
Forsyth, A. 2015, Rural areas in China face a growing inequality and discrepancies in wealth and healthcare access, Health And Places Initiative, viewed 1 November 2016, <http://research.gsd.harvard.edu/hapi/files/2015/05/HAPI-Research-Brief-Demographics-of-China-final-draft-052715.pdf>
Pert, A. 2015, ‘Design for an Ageing Population’, National Seniors Australia, viewed 1 November 2016, <http://www.nationalseniors.com.au/sites/default/files/07151270PAC_PACForum_FactSheet_DesignForAnAgeingPopulation_1.pdf>
Xu, B. 2016, ‘A silver lining to China’s ageing population’, The Australian, 27 January, viewed 1 November 2016, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/business-spectator/a-silver-lining-to-chinas-ageing-population/news-story/25e58abe630815f9976763cd27a79764>
Walker, A & Zhou, J. 2015, ‘The Need for Community Care Among Older People in China’, Ageing and Society, vol. 36, no. 6, viewed 1 November 2016 <https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ageing-and-society/article/the-need-for-community-care-among-older-people-in-china/319CE29A216CB9797889DCFA76907389>