China making elderly people productive for society

Social protection to 300,000 pensioners a year; Beijing city govt adopts innovative measures to take care of elderly people
Zubair Qureshi


China, despite coping with fast-changing social, economic and political conditions at home and abroad and in maintaining pace of its development, has not forgotten its elderly people, those veterans who worked and learned only as farmers and peasants or those workers who retired from offices and factories at a time when the country’s economy had not taken a turn around. In order to share with them the dividends of China’s fast-growing economy, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has taken a number of steps. Service guidance centres for pensioners are such institutions as give this neglected class of society a sense of participation. Lest they should feel themselves a discarded part of the body or of no more use, the government of China has established guidance centres for pensioners and elderly persons where they are engaged in small but useful works against a nominal part of their pension and insurance coverage. In this way these elderly persons at 80 and even 90, feel themselves productive members of society. One such guidance centre established in Chaoyang District of Beijing in 2013 is providing services to the pensioners and elderly persons and these services include all kind of facilities and opportunities for learning like medical care, skill-learning, recreation, theatre, music, dance and even matrimonial services for widows and widowers. During a visit to the Pensioners Guidance Centre here on Saturday, media persons were taken to the various departments and sections where they could see old persons taking part in skill learning, music and dance classes, calligraphy and housekeeping, cleaning, cooking and other such chores. Talking to media persons Director of the Centre Mr Wang Jun said there were in all 44 such centres (one head office and 43 branches) and services of all kind are available for elderly people. “We are here not only to provide service but we also guide and counsel them,” said Wang Jun.
In order to train them in various skills or in order to take proper care of them (in case they are disabled and sick) training of trainers is also an important part of the centre. One could see internees and local volunteers attending lectures and classes as how to take care of the diseased, elderly people and how to involve them in something productive.
“They are the ones who feel lonely despite the fact they gave 30 precious years of their lives in service to society and in contributing to the wellbeing and uplift of the nation. Now it is our turn to pay them back by being kind to them; by listening to their problems and by sharing their thoughts,” said Wang Jun. Since its establishment in 2013, the centre has so far covered more than 500,000 elderly persons in addressing their various issues ranging from medical care to training in some skill, finding them a suitable match, etc.
There are 60 medical centres working under the Chaoyang District Pension Service Centre that not only provide visitors’ medical care but also give ‘online advice’ to those who are unable to visit or live at a distance. For those who don’t have a person to talk to one could see a robot that was not only talking to them but also singing and dancing to them and replying to their questions. “This robotic member of the family is useful in the sense it can also bring things and do little odd jobs for them,” said one of the officials. A marriage club was also there where elderly men and women find suitable match for them and in this way they have a companion in their erstwhile dull lives. Later, the media delegation was taken to an operational centre named “Golden Heights.” There, some well-off elderly persons were living in excellent conditions. The average age of a resident at Golden Heights is 83 said the manager of the Golden heights and facilities like theatre, barbar shop, medical care, billiard and other indoor games are provided besides food, café, garden and well-furnished rooms to the guests. Children from Kindergarten visit the elderly persons to share with them stories and to entertain them.

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