China Begins to Confront Woes of Elderly and Alzheimer’s

An article in the New York Times looks at how Chinese society is trying to provide care for the increasing numbers of elderly and those with Alzheimer’s disease, many of whom don’t have children or grandchildren to care for them:

While many countries are struggling to cope with rapidly aging populations, in China there are forecasts that within three decades there could be nearly 400 million people over the age of 60 and, partly because of the one-child policy, a declining number of working-age people to care for them.

Recognizing the difficult road ahead, China is beginning to educate the public and the medical community about dementia, and big cities are making plans to build new facilities, like the Shanghai No. 3 Elderly Home.

The shift in attitudes is remarkable. A decade ago, many families were ashamed to admit that their elders had such a disease. And because of a lack of awareness about the disease, many dementia patients were confined to the psychiatric wards of hospitals, which placed steel bars over the windows.

But today, a growing number of families are desperate to place relatives in a nursing home. The problem, health experts say, is that there simply are not enough.

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