China's amended law and what it means for older people
The Washington Post has recently reported on a new law in China which requires children to visit their older parents, lest they want to be sued.
The article states: "A rapidly developing China is facing increasing difficulty in caring for its ageing population. Three decades of market reforms have accelerated the breakup of the traditional extended family in China, and there are few affordable alternatives, such as retirement or care homes, for the elderly or others unable to live on their own."
I noticed that a lot of the reports in the media have focused on the responsibility of children to visit their parents. It is in fact a minor part of this law, although it is a significant amendment for many other reasons.
In my opinion, the most important aspects of the new law are:
- It promotes active ageing and does not refer to ageing as a burden.
- This year, according to the lunar calendar, 9 September has been designated as the national day of older people, which is a good opportunity to improve intergenerational relationships.
- It identifies the Civil Affairs Bureau as the government agency for regulating institutional care. Currently 20% of these institutions are not registered to government agencies, making it difficult to track responsibility or accountability.
- It offers free transportation and free entry to museums and parks to local and older migrants, which is good for older people's social participation.
- It requires age-friendly cities and communities. This will regulate the construction of community facilities and enable older people to participate in social development.
- It requires that all communities develop community services for older people, including day care centres for older people, meals on wheels etc..
- Violations of the law and their subsequent punishments will be made public. This will help to enforce the implementation of the law and let the government, institutions and family members know they must follow it.
- Elder abuse is strictly prohibited.
- Couples who follow family planning policies will get more financial and care support as they age.
- To support long term care, better pensions and medical insurance will be developed in the near future.
Read more about HelpAge's work to support older people in China.