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Population shift means more lonely old people
Elderly left on their own as families move to citiesMaria Liu and her great-grandson
- ucanews.com reporter, Guangzhou
- February 16, 2012
Her misery is shared in full by her daughter, Teresa.
â€śChinese people have the concept of raising children to bring them security in old age,â€ť said Teresa.Â â€śSadly, we donâ€™t earn enough to bring my mother to live with us in the city.â€ť
â€śAt least she feels less lonely since she got a telephone installed, as we call her several times a week.â€ť
China has 167 million people aged over 60 and about half of them are â€śempty-nestersâ€ť who live on their own. Â According to Liu Hong, head of civil affairs in Guangdong province, that figure is constantly rising.
â€śThere are 10.7 million people in Guangdong aged 60 or above, which is 12.6 percent of the population. By 2015 that figure will reach 11.7 million,â€ť he said.
Chinaâ€™s economic boom of the past 30 years has sent millions of people flocking to the cities.Â For the many of them who have elderly parents, there is a constant dilemma between staying near the family home or going where the work is.
â€śAlthough we were poorer in the old days, we lived together and were able to enjoy happy moments at home. Now our life has improved but Iâ€™ve had to leave my parents behind,â€ť said Huang Haidong, a factory manager.
â€śSome of my friends can afford to bring all their family to live with them. But their parents canâ€™t get used to urban life and they prefer to stay in the rural areas, alone. Itâ€™s so sad.â€ť
Clearly, the Church can play a valuable role in alleviating loneliness.
â€śThe Church should promote the value and dignity of life,â€ť said Father John Deng, who makes frequent visits to Church-run old peoplesâ€™ homes around Guangdong.
â€śSome of the elderly feel they are a burden to the society,â€ť he added, recalling one resident who often said â€śwhy shouldnâ€™t I die? Why should I bring my troubles to other people?â€ť
Joseph Peng, a young Catholic in Shenzhen, had a practical suggestion: â€śI would urge the Church to open more homes for the aged so that elderly people of the Catholic faith can spend the sunset of their life together in Godâ€™s community," he said.
â€śI would also like to see parish priests take the initiative and start more care groups for the elderly. We can spend the weekends visiting them and enriching their spiritual lives with organized activities.â€ť
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