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Local officials said that the city is determined to increase the number of beds at senior's homes by more than 20 percent by the end of 2015, as 80 percent of local residents over the age of 60 next year are predicted to account for parents, who will have only one adult child to care for them.
At a meeting for the city's aging situation this week, local authorities announced plans to add 23 percent more beds to old age homes, or 125,000 beds, and establish another some 26,000 hospital beds by 2015.
But with the elderly population predicted to hit 4.3 million by the end of 2015, amounting to roughly 30 percent of the city's entire population and comprising a 1.3-percentage point increase annually for the next three years, experts worried about the daunting burden of caring for aging seniors.
"Additional healthcare and social services will be desperately needed from the next decade, when the oldest parents of single children reach the age of 70 or above," Zhou Haiwang, vice director of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Population and Development Studies, told the Global Times yesterday.
Yet, while 90 percent of the elderly population is expected to be cared for by their adult children, hundreds of thousands of seniors will still require help from the city, which has only outlined another 100 day-care centers and 200 community canteens for them within the next three years.
"But many of the new facilities are being built in suburban areas, not downtown where most old people reside, and that will cause a great imbalance in the demographic layout of care centers for seniors," he said.
Zhou added that more needs to be done to ensure that the city has enough care providers for seniors in the coming years - a profession that is currently suffering from a shortage of qualified people.
He doubted that recruitment plans to train some 250,000 volunteers by 2015 would be enough to alleviate pressures.
2012-05-08 Global Times