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High-tech care for aging population to reduce burden

Updated: Jan 30, 2018 China Daily Print
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An intelligent elderly care service center opened in Beijing's Shunyi district on Jan 20, which explores a new high-tech model of looking after senior citizens in residential communities.

Using state-of-art health management devices and equipment, the center can remotely monitor seniors' health and offer advice adapting houses so that they are more elderly-friendly.

The new facility provides traditional Chinese medicine therapies, chronic disease management, sleep monitoring and treatment, and risk profiles for potential diseases.

To date, approximately 380 elderly care service centers operate in Beijing, said Li Hongbing, spokesperson for the city's Civil Affairs Bureau, at a news conference in mid-January.

Of them, 230 began operating last year.

Government data show that Beijing has a population of 3.5 million people aged over 60, and 9.8 percent of them are living alone.

Beijing will expand its elderly care service network, integrating service providers at different levels of districts, townships and communities. The government will roll out a specific plan on developing the network soon.

Local governments in Beijing are now required to conduct weekly home visits to elderly residents who live in their own homes.

Li said that those aged over 80 who live alone should be prioritized, as well as those caring for disabled dependents.

Home visits should be provided to at least 50,000 senior citizens this year, he said.

He said that the home visits will help to address the needs of the elderly and provide information on their health conditions.

The visits should be done by the sub-district offices, township governments, or elderly care organizations entrusted by them, he added.

The Beijing government has taken a series of additional measures to improve the at-home care of senior citizens.

These include funding the installation of safety facilities, such as handrails, elevators big enough for wheelchairs and emergency call devices, as the city currently does not have sufficient nursing homes to meet the needs of its aging population.

In addition, elderly care in rural areas is another priority on the government's agenda, Li said.

Beijing's rural areas account for 90 percent of its total. Of the capital's total population, 10 percent are farmers. Especially deep in the mountains, public service supervision is hard to get.

Attending to elderly parents at home is a tradition in China. Making better use of internet technologies to provide professional skills for home care is another approach.

Local authorities will increase government spending, leverage various resources from the government, families and collectives to aid elderly care services in rural areas in the future, Li added.

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