Updated: 2013-10-21 07:11

(China Daily)

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Eldercare options necessary

Comment on "How to cope with an aging society" (China Daily, Sept 9)

China's initiative of taking care of its large population of senior citizens helped change my view on the life of the elderly in China and the United States. In the US, the elderly continue to choose between a retirement home or an assisted-living home when faced with vulnerability. Although this choice can be a positive experience, people of many other cultures have looked down upon it, saying it is demeaning for people who cannot take care of themselves.

Chinese culture, based on a strong family-orientated philosophy, is known for paying the highest respect to elders. Traditionally, households in China have comprised more than two generations, making it easy for family members to take care of the elders.

But as a 23-year-old American woman, I appreciate the Chinese government's efforts to create more options for the elderly. Such an arrangement has succeeded in the US and other Western countries.

With fewer women spending enough time at home to take proper care of the elderly because of jobs, there is need for the Chinese government to offer multiple options for eldercare. That senior citizens account for 14.3 percent of the total population makes this arrangement even more necessary. Since roles in Chinese society continue to change, there is no guarantee that every person will have the good fortune of enjoying family or government-aided care in old age.

Nevertheless, hesitation over building assisted-living homes in China continues because of the clash between morality and reality. I respect the decision to not have assisted-living homes in China thus far because I believe it should be a choice for the individual or family, not the government, to make. But by opening facilities for the elderly, the Chinese government will be benefiting not only the present generation of of senior citizens but also the ones to come.

Chelsea Frigen, via e-mail

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(China Daily 10/21/2013 page9)