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Life in a retirement home

[ 2009-10-26 15:11]     字号 [] [] []  
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The aging population is an issue facing the whole world right now. As a concept necessary for our survival, lifestyle solutions for the elderly have become a top priority. In China, provisions for the elderly are mainly made by families and wider society. A new trend is now developing with a growing number of nursing homes and retirement villages.

Just before Chongyang Festival, the traditional holiday dedicated to honoring our elderly, we arrived at the Sanhe Retirement Community in downtown Beijing. This community currently provides it services to more than fifty senior citizens.

Wang Shuyuan(Manager):”We began operation in July 2006 under the management of the Beixinqiao local community. There are 38 rooms.”

The apartments are designed according to three star hotel standards. 1600 yuan a month gets you a shared room, while a 2600 yuan pays for a private room. More than 20 services are included with the room hire, such as food, laundry, entertainment activities and medical services. The high quality facilities and services, as well as their reasonable prices, have caught the eye of many retirees and their children. There are currently over 100 people on the waiting list for rooms.

Wu Yuping(75 years old):”I feel I can’t pick any fault with this place. My room is cleaned by professionals every day. They really take a lot of care, and the president of the centre is strict on hygiene. The three meals a day are always varied and nutritionally balanced, as well as good value. Food only costs 300 yuan a month. Every morning I can have eggs, milk, congee, and some small side dishes. I was plump before I came, and now I’ve gained another five pounds.”

Modern Chinese society is seeing conflict between traditional views and modern views on provision for the elderly. In traditional Chinese thought, filial piety is important. The old adage ‘raise the child to prepare for old age’ illustrates this attitude perfectly. But in fast-paced modern China, there are now more options for providing for one’s parents.

Wang Shurong(Li Xiuzhen’s daughter):”I feel this is the direction society is heading in. Actually, I have several siblings, and in the beginning we all felt anxiety about sending our mother here. She’s so old now, and we also worried that people would talk, saying we don’t have filial piety. But we all had our own jobs, and really couldn’t look after her. She couldn’t accept the idea at first, and we gradually convinced her until she got used to the idea.”

Li Xiuzhen(85 years old):”And now I don’t even want to go home. Really, I don’t. It’s nice here. I feel like this is home.”

Wu Yuping(75 years old):”I don’t want to go home either. I am used to this place. Everything is convenient, so I don’t want to leave.”

The apartments and various facilities are all designed especially for the elderly. This is met with approval by the residents and their children.

Wang Shurong(Li Xiuzhen’s daughter):”Even staff member here, from the head of the centre to the nurses, are all great. They really take good care of the residents. If they have any problems or requests, they really try their best to satisfy .”

Wang Lianqi(Li Xiuzhen’s son):”See, all the facilities are really personalized. The bathrooms all have safety rails. The showers all have places to sit, and have safety rails too. And there’s some along the stairway too.”

But it’s not just about the material goods. In this three-storey building, there are six special common rooms for the elderly. There are special areas available for calligraphy and art, chess and board games, reading, and exercise- lots of activities which are beloved by the elderly. There are many hobby groups within the community, giving residents with similar interests more opportunities for interaction.

Wu Yuping(75 years old):”There are lots of other elderly people here. We haven’t been here long but we’re all getting close with each other. We share the same ideals and the same hobbies. We have choir practice on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the Chinese opera group meets on Thursdays. I really like Chinese opera so I joined that group. We perform on special occasions. We’re preparing to perform on the day of Chongyang Festival next week.”

Wang Shurong(Li Xiuzhen’s daughter):”They also go on organized trips throughout the year. And they have talent competitions and poetry readings. There is such a great variety of leisure activities for them. There is a variety show every Spring Festival. It’s very diverse.”

The staff here have all been systematically trained to provide a guaranteed high quality of service.

Wang Shuyuan(Manager):”The retirement home is a service provided by the government for the benefit for these elderly people. They have lived a long, hard life to be where they are, so they should be looked after. Provision from family is one thing, and provision from society is another. We have a heavy responsibility to look after these people on behalf of greater society.”

The traditional Chinese holiday, Chongyang Festival, is also called the ‘the festival of the elderly’. It celebrates and hopes for long healthy lives for our citizens, and display the traditional Chinese value of respect for old age. According to China’s 11th Five- Year-Plan, China’s over-60 population will grow to 174 million, making up 12.78 % of the population. Development of the senior citizens’ service sector is one of the methods the Chinese government will use to counter the problem of an aging population.

(英语点津 编辑)