China’s ‘Silver Tsunami’ Begins

Here’s a pretty depressing and alarming story about the state of aged-care facilities in China.

Some facts from the Bloomberg story:

  • China has about 38,000 institutions serving the elderly with 2.7 million beds, enough for about 1.6 percent of the population over 60, according to the World Bank. That compares with about 8 percent in developed countries, the bank says.
  • Some homes are fully staffed government clinics for senior officials or private hospitals catering to the new urban elite. Most are boarding houses with few medical facilities, mainly in large cities. In towns and villages, the situation is far worse.
  • A 2009 survey of 140 nursing homes in the eastern city of Nanjing by a group of Chinese academics found that fewer than a third employed a doctor or a nurse. Most of the staff were unskilled rural migrant workers with minimal training.
  • There are no industry standards and little government oversight. In August, the state-run China Daily newspaper carried a report about a man in Anhui province who discovered that staff at a local nursing home tied his father’s hands to his bed for 11 hours a night.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, the facilities and care rival many establishments in the West.

No wonder the Chinese are so intent on saving. A retirement without money here seems very nasty indeed.