Elderly residents have a dinner at the Yunlin Life Apartment community's restaurant. [Photo/China Daily]
Elder care a growing priority Wuxi officials and businesspeople
Two years ago, Shanghai retiree Yin Yueqin moved to Xinwu district of Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu province, because she did not want to live alone in the cosmopolitan financial hub.
Yin's loved ones－her son and his family－all live in Austria and she had wrestled with many daily chores with no help at her old place.
But the 80-year-old former printing factory employee is now all smiles and right at home in her 70-square-meter Wuxi apartment.
"I checked out many places before deciding on this one. People are very helpful here and I gel to stay active. The food is also to my taste and I can enjoy all my favorite dishes, like fish and dumplings," she said.
Yin is a resident of the Yunlin Life Apartment community, developed under the Dutch Humanitas (Life Apartment) model that uses "a happy retired life" as its core concept for advanced elder care philosophies.
The development is touted as the first of its kind in the country, offering an open-air and ungated community where residents, young and old, can interact and access a full range of amenities, facilities and services. Perks include elder care-oriented apartments, a nursing center, a rehabilitation hospital, an affordable restaurant, a museum of nostalgic paraphernalia, a heated swimming pool and daily recreational events where the elderly can socialize.
Nearly 200 elderly residents make up about 300 households in the community.
The Jiangsu Yunlin Elderly Care Development Group, under the Jiangsu Sujia Group, rolled out the development four years ago as a "homelike and elderly-oriented community", working closely in line with the approach in the Netherlands, where there are more than 33 "life apartment" projects with waiting lists as long as 10,000 people for its award－winning elder care model.
Elder care at Yunlin offers a way for the country to face the challenges of an aging population as it moves firmly on the development path toward a moderately prosperous society.
In the next three decades, China will see its aging population grow at a faster rate, especially after 2030, when the number of senior citizens is expected to rise by 11 million a year, according to latest population research.
The old-age dependency ratio is also set to be higher than the children's dependency ratio by about 2030, with elder care becoming a major responsibility of working-age people.
The trend of nuclear families replacing extended ones will also fuel the "empty nest" phenomenon, with the number of senior citizens living alone increasing from about 18 million in 2010 to more than 50 million by 2050. More rural residents will move to cities thanks to rapid development.
Yunlin apartments are sold to the elderly or for permanent use. Its residents arc "surrounded by acquaintances, do not leave society participate in social activities, have relatives and friends who can visit often, enjoy complete housekeeping, nursing and medical services ... all suited for an elder care community", according to the group.