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October 22, 2019

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Home » District » Minhang

Paying homage to beloved elderly

Minhang centenarians He Lianfang and Chen Zhongbo were recently honored in this year’s Shanghai Top 10 Longevity Stars awards.

The awards were part of the Double Ninth Festival, an annual event that fell on October 7 this year. The traditional holiday honoring the elderly drew well wishes from none other than President Xi Jinping this year.

He and Chen are among 2,657 centenarians in Shanghai, an increase of 141 since the end of 2018.

He, 110, is the oldest person in Minhang. The mother of five is still active and healthy. In fact, her doctors say she’s as healthy as a 60-year-old. Her 57-year-old granddaughter, recently retired, takes care of her.

Bananas are a must-have in He’s diet. She eats four to six a day, and can put away a whole cooked fish when she’s feeling particularly hungry.

Chen, 109, lives in a senior citizens’ home in the district. He worked at a banknote printing center before retirement.

Every day, he walks in the corridors of the home to keep up his physical fitness. He is proud to tell people that he still bathes himself and washes his own clothes.

Chen has a healthy appetite. He likes fatty meats, but a typical meal consists of eight wontons, an egg and a cup of milk. His favorite activity is playing mahjong.

The Double Ninth Festival, or Chongyang Festival, falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar calendar. It’s an ancient Chinese observance dating back to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

Traditionally, the festival was celebrated by people climbing mountains, drinking chrysanthemum wine and eating special cakes. Because the number nine, or jiu in Chinese, sounds like the word for “longevity,” the Double Ninth Festival was designated as Senior’s Day in 1989.

Honoring the elderly is an old tradition in China. Caring for a rapidly aging population is a modern challenge for government.

At the end of June, there were more than 8,100 elderly in Minhang who were living in care homes or welfare facilities.

The government provides services like emergency calls for elderly people who have no one to take care of them. In 2018, the district paid pensions to more than 230,000 people 65 years or older.

The Minhang branch of the Shanghai Senior Citizens Foundation buys insurance for senior residents to cover any unsubsidized costs of accidents and injuries like bone fractures.

More than 90 percent of the elderly in Minhang still live at home, under the care of family members continuing the ancient ethic of filial piety.

Seven percent of the elderly are in community care and 3 percent live in nursing homes.

Many community facilities do their bit by providing comprehensive services for the elderly, including medical treatment, entertainment, daytime care and mental support. Most communities are equipped with activity room for the elderly, and some operate programs pairing senior citizens with younger retirees.

Nursing home care is often necessary when frail elderly people don’t have anyone to take care of them. For those without much money, there are public nursing homes. Those with savings can afford higher-end care in privately funded aged-care centers.

Minhang has 56 nursing homes. Individual care plans are developed by aged-care experts based on the needs and health of older residents.


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