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May 9, 2011

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Seniors moving to city a test for elderly care


The results of the Sixth National Census revealed that Shanghai is home to almost 9 million migrant people - 37 percent of the city's population. While boosting Shanghai's labor force, workers often bring their children and parents, creating challenges for the education and elderly care system. Shanghai Daily reporters Lu Feiran and Liang Yiwen examine the problems.

AMY Liu, 29, lives in a two-room apartment with her husband, daughter and her parents. Shanxi Province natives, her mother and father, who are both retired, are in Shanghai to take care of their five-year-old granddaughter.

Liu is concerned that, as they get older, her parents will require services that they are not entitled to as non-locals. "They're not the same as local seniors," Liu said.

"Now, they are relatively 'young,' but once they are over 70, it will be very different," Liu said. "For example, they will be at the back of the queue if they need to go to seniors' homes."

It had been planned that Liu's parents would return to Shanxi Province after their grandchild goes to school, but Liu is reluctant to leave them alone in their hometown.

Liu's dilemma is by no means an isolated case. City statistics officials say the problem will become more pronounced in a decade or so, when these seniors get older.

Migrant people add to the city's labor force and professions to the city, but many also expect their parents to live with them in the city, according to Yu Xuming, deputy director of the Shanghai national census office.

"Now many college students from other provinces stay in Shanghai after graduation, and the parents of many move to the city," Yu said.

"We should also consider their welfare and care in Shanghai."

At present, there are no figures for this group of seniors. Local statistics officials said they will produce preliminary statistics so that civil affairs authorities can make policy to meet their needs.

The Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said non-local seniors don't enjoy the city's social insurance and local seniors' homes usually give priority to registered people.

According to the regulation of seniors' institutions, seniors' homes can apply "preferential policies" to admit local elderly. In any case, there are not enough homes even for locals.

Bureau officials said they will increase the number of beds by 3 percent for local seniors over the next five years.

"If seniors are registered in other provinces, they enjoy the social insurance there," said Liu Zhanyi, an official with the bureau. "If they don't have a permanent residence registration, we'll try to help."

The bureau is currently establishing a care system for non-local seniors living alone. Officials are also encouraging neighborhood communities to expand their caring net to non-local seniors.

Shanghai now is faced with an aging society. Within the next five years, it is estimated there will be 4.3 million Shanghai residents over the age of 60 - 30 percent of the registered population.


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