The 14th Five-Year Plan: what’s new in elderly care?

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Falls have become the leading cause of injury-related death for people over 65 years old in China. More than 40 million over 65s suffer at least one fall every year, with about half of them occurring at home, according to statistics from the Nationwide Disease Surveillance Points (DSP). The figures provide evidence of the urgent need to ensure all seniors have a safe living environment.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), China will further improve the infrastructure that helps support elderly care services. The government plans to ensure that some types of smart products are able to provide real-time usage data, as well as removing equipment that could pose concerns for safety and security, and funding senior-friendly supplies for two million families with elderly residents living in extreme hardship.

Besides home-based services, China will also work to develop integrated nursing home and healthcare facilities that combine elderly care with medical treatment, as well as focusing on improving the quality of combined services.

“Before the end of 2022, we aim to ensure that each county has at least one county-level nursing home that focuses on disability care, while also prioritizing meeting the care needs of people with disabilities living in extreme poverty,” announced Li Banghua, deputy director of the Department of Elderly Services at the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Zeng Xiandi from Jiangxi Province is one of the senior citizens expected to benefit from the new measures. “The doctor will come to the room every day to take my blood pressure and deliver medicines. This makes me feel at ease.” The elderly care center where Zeng is resident functions as a nursing home as well as a general hospital. Residents can receive medical care onsite and have their health conditions monitored through the health record system managed by the center.

In addition to encouraging social actors to build elderly care institutions, the government is also calling on social actors to help supply elderly care services, support the research and development of products for the elderly, and come up with innovative and creative measures to support elderly care.

Currently, there are 264 million people aged 60 or over in China, accounting for 18.7 percent of the total population.

By the end of 2020, local governments had invested a total of 474 million yuan in completing the renovation of 163,400 buildings inhabited by elderly residents living in extreme hardship. The total number of elderly care service institutions and facilities nationwide was 319,000, with more than 8.2 million beds, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.