Pair of new laws to improve care for elderly

China Daily Updated: 2022-08-31

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Seniors dance outside a homestay in Jing'an, Jiangxi province, last month. The local government launched an agritourism program for elderly city dwellers to escape the summer heat. [Photo/Xinhua]

China will accelerate the formulation of two new laws dedicated to elderly care and barrier-free facilities, as part of efforts to tackle the country's quickly aging population by reinforcing related legal frameworks, according to a report delivered to the top legislature and a senior health official on Tuesday.

The report, delivered to the 36th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress, said that a law on elderly care services will be established, combining the experiences of various localities and focusing on key issues such as community nursing homes, the integration of healthcare and elderly care services, elderly care resources in rural areas and long-term care.

Expedited efforts will also be made to set up a law on building barrier-free environments, aiming to push the notion of barrier-free access into every sector of society. A draft version is expected to be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, for review by the end of this year, it said.

The report was compiled after national legislators led a research tour on the aging issue in China and was delivered to the ongoing session of the top legislature on Tuesday.

China became an aging society when the proportion of people aged 60 and above exceeded 10 percent in 1999. The rate climbed to 18.9 percent last year, and is projected to top 20 percent by 2025 and nearly 35 percent by 2050, according to the report.

China's aging trend is "serious" as it is aging at a much faster rate than other countries and is now the world's only nation to have an elderly population of more than 200 million, said the report, resulting in a number of issues such as lack of home-based care services for seniors and a shortage of care professionals.

"In Jiangsu province, the number of elderly with different degrees of physical and mental disabilities means it needs 330,000 elderly care nursing staff, while the number available currently stands at only 60,000," it said.

In addition to speeding up drafting new laws, the report said that the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly will also be amended, regarding children's duty to care for parents, social security systems and seniors' participation in social development.

Meanwhile, the Law on Social Security will be revised at an adequate time. Along with the law on healthcare security that is in the pipeline, the report said that different types of insurance will be upgraded and adjusted to the planned raising of the retirement age in the future.

Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission, said in a separate report delivered to the ongoing session that fraud and disputes involving seniors have also mushroomed in recent years, and a mediation mechanism for resolving family and marriage disputes concerning seniors should also be improved.

In addition to ensuring enforcement of existing laws to protect the elderly, Ma said more efforts should be devoted to enhancing legal aid for the elderly and cracking down on illegal activities that infringe on their legal rights.

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