Senior citizens reluctant to live in nursing homes

Updated: 2012-07-11 13:19


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BEIJING -- The number of elderly people in China who are willing to spend their twilight years in nursing homes is decreasing, according to survey results released on Tuesday.

According to the survey, conducted by the China Research Center on Aging, 11.3 percent of respondents in urban areas said they are willing to stay in nursing homes, adding that they would be able to afford an average monthly fee of 1,016 yuan ($160).

Meanwhile, 12.5 percent of respondents in rural areas said they would be willing to live in a nursing home, adding that they would be able to afford just 172 yuan a month on average.

The survey was conducted starting in December 2010 among 19,986 elderly people in 160 cities and counties in 20 provincial-level regions.

"Compared with the results of two previous surveys conducted in 2000 and 2006, the new survey reveals the elderly population's gradually declining willingness to live in nursing homes," said Wu Yushao, director of the China Research Center on Aging.

"The majority of elderly people still prefer to live in the communities they are familiar with and enjoy life with their families," Wu said.

The survey revealed that 75.7 percent of urban respondents and 71.2 percent of their rural counterparts own their own houses or apartments.

Wu attributed decreasing desire to live in nursing homes to expanded property ownership among the elderly, improved home care services and expanding social security coverage.

The survey showed that 95.3 percent of urban respondents are covered by medical insurance, while the figure among rural respondents was 98.3 percent.

Wu warned that China still lacks sufficient services for the disabled and care-dependent elderly, as well as faces the challenge of dealing with an increasing number of "empty nesters", or elderly people who do not have relatives living nearby to take care of them.

The survey revealed that 54 percent of elderly people in urban areas lived in "empty nest" families in 2010, while 45.6 percent of elderly people in rural areas lived alone that year. The figures were 49.7 percent and 38.3 percent, respectively, in 2006.

China has 184.99 million citizens aged 60 or above, accounting for 13.7 percent of the total population, according to figures from the China National Committee on Aging.