Challenges of ageing society imminent

Due to traditional Chinese culture, most of the elderly in China prefer to be cared for at home, and the demand for the service has grown over the years.


A caretaker attends to a senior resident who lives alone at a residential community in Huangpu district in Shanghai, on April 9, 2020. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

October 6, 2022

BEIJING – The number of centenarians in Shanghai reached 3,689 by Sept 30, according to statistics released by the city’s civil affairs bureau on the traditional Double Ninth Festival, which fell on Tuesday. Having a healthy diet, a regular daily routine, and more important, staying happy are their top tips for longevity.

The Double Ninth Festival, also known as the longevity festival, falls on the ninth day of the ninth month on the Chinese lunar calendar. In Chinese folklore, the number nine is the largest number — it’s a homonym of the Chinese word jiu, which contains the auspicious meaning of “a long and healthy life”.

Of those centenarians, more than 74 percent are female and 97.8 percent are between 100 and 105. Currently, the oldest female in Shanghai is 112, while the longest living male is 111. Furthermore, there are seven couples who are all centenarians, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

Some of the centenarians shared their secrets for living a long life. Zheng Jinlong, 100, said he is always optimistic about life and still very healthy. Also, he always has a big breakfast, only eats until 70 percent full at lunch and has a very light dinner.

Ding Jindu, 103, said her top tip for longevity is having a regular daily routine. She always gets up at 6 am and takes a walk after breakfast. She also prefers to sit under the sun. What’s more, her diet is quite light, often consisting of just porridge, steamed egg pudding and dried meat.

Shen Dehua, 102, said he believes dietary habit plays an important role in living a longer life. He never eats excessively and always stays away from hot pot and alcohol. More important, feeling happy and enjoying life is key to longevity.

According to statistics from the city’s civil affairs bureau, the number of centenarians in Shanghai increased about tenfold from 2000 to 2021. During that period, the number of male centenarians increased by 872 with an average annual growth rate of 15.5 percent while 2,376 women have joined the league of centenarians with an average annual growth rate of 11.6 percent.

Also, it took 58 years for the number of centenarians in Shanghai to increase from just one in 1953 to 1,000. But it only took six years for the number to grow to 2,000 and three more to reach 3,000, the authority added.

Shanghai is an example showing how an aging society is forming quickly in the country. That has given rise to the boom of the nursing industry for the elderly, and sharp demands for caregivers.

Official data show that by the end of 2021, China had 267 million people age 60 and above, or 18.9 percent of the population, while those age 65 and above accounted for over 14 percent of the population.

Due to traditional Chinese culture, most of the elderly in China prefer to be cared for at home, and the demand for services related to home care has grown over the years.

In Beijing, only 1.1 percent of the elderly live in nursing homes, while 98.9 percent live at home. Even for those elderly people who cannot take care of themselves, most still prefer home care.

“We hope that through the intermediate link provided by care managers, older people who really need it can enjoy professional elderly care services,” said Guo Hanqiao, an official with the Beijing municipal civil affairs bureau.

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