Is China Ready to be Old? 老龄化社会,中国准备好了么?| ABC News In-depth 澳大利亚广播公司深度报道

An intimate and moving story of families stretched to the limit. In China, as people live longer, dementia is on the rise. With few government services, ordinary people are sacrificing everything to care for their own.



Zhen remembers her wedding day well. When her father gave his speech, he urged her to have two children. But now Zhen is unsure whether she even wants to have one. Not long after her wedding, Zhen’s father Liang was diagnosed with dementia. He was in his 50s. Now Zhen and her mother are caring for Liang full time.


And Zhen doesn’t want to impose that burden on her children. “The way I see it,” Zhen explains, “without kids, if I develop the same condition as my dad, with what I know now, I can just send myself off to a nursing home and it’s done. I won’t put any extra pressure on my kids, and they won’t have to endure any depression or anything like that.” It’s a problem many families in China are grappling with.

桢不希望自己给孩子造成很多的负担。她说:“我觉得没有孩子的话,如果我出现了和父亲一样的症状,我可以把自己送到养老院,然后就好了。我不会给孩子额外的压力,他们不用有像我一样的抑郁。” 这是很多中国家庭面临的状况。

As the population ages, dementia is on the rise. But there’s little awareness of the disease and few services. In China, more than 96% of people with the condition are looked after by their families. The obligation to care for your elders is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. “That’s probably the traditional Chinese concept of filial piety, but the reality is you can’t fulfill your duty,” says Zhen.


ABC reporter Lydia Feng presents this intimate and moving program about China’s hidden epidemic. Working with local filmmakers, we take you inside three families stretched to the limit as they do their best to look after a loved one with dementia. We meet a widow and her daughter living in the countryside, where there are even fewer services for the elderly and their families.


We spend time with a blind couple in Beijing, where despite all hardships, Uncle Xing is still utterly devoted to his wife of nearly 50 years. “I’ve looked after only one woman my whole life. She needs special care,” says Uncle Xing. “I feel bad if she suffers.” “We’re not ready. We’re not even prepared for the challenge of aged care as a whole, let alone dementia care.” says social worker Wang Shihong, whose organization helps support the elderly.

节目组也采访了北京的一对盲人夫妇,经过所有的艰难,鑫叔叔依然照顾患病的妻子长达50年。“我这一辈子只照顾了一个女士,她需要特殊的关照。如果她受苦的话,我就会很难受。” 社工王石红,在一个关爱老人的组织工作,她说:“我们国家是没有准备好的,我们在养老问题方面都没有准备好,更别说照顾失智老人了。”

Shihong believes the public needs to be educated about the problem. “The symptoms are showing up but they’re not taken as something that needs medical attention,” she says. “If it can be spotted early in its development, through screening, for example, more can be done to slow the patient’s deterioration before it’s too late.” This film is a rare insight into the struggle of ordinary families in China to deal with a debilitating but little-understood condition.

石红认为公众需要了解这方面更多的信息。“症状出现之后,公众没有注意到问题,而且也没有发现这个需要治疗。比如说在这之前,通过药物治疗可以减缓症状的发生。” 本片是关注了中国普通家庭在应对这种情况的挣扎。


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