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Old people find it difficult to adapt
By Zhang Feng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-17 05:45

They are called senior citizens, but their authority in family and social affairs is becoming more and more "junior," a survey reveals.

Older people are finding themselves in a more passive position in today's rapidly developing society, the survey found.

"In history, China has been a country where authority grows along with your age when deciding family and social affairs," said Zhang Xuwu, standing committee member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

However, figures now show that about 60 per cent of interviewed people said that their children do not consult them over some decisions, Zhang said.

Zhang made the remarks at a press conference organized to release the survey on the lives of today's senior citizens, according to a report by the Horizon Research Group and the Joymain Group.

The survey involved a total of 2,225 people aged over 60 from seven big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, Xi'an and Wuhan.

China's society started aging several years ago. By the end of last year there were 142 million people aged over 60 in the world's biggest developing country, Zhang said.

Nearly 80 per cent of the 2,225 interviewed said they are satisfied with the present lives.

However, the survey also revealed many problems.

One is that the rapid economic and social developments in China, which is opening wider to the outside world, is leaving older people further and further behind, said Yuan Yue, president of the Horizon Research Group.

Only about 40 per cent of these old people say they have frequent talks with their children.

But Chinese old people say they still show great understanding and support to their children.

"Young people are quite busy and have serious pressures from their work and study" has become a popular comment from parents who want to explain why their children have less and less time to be with them.

People who are aged over 60 have largely failed to benefit from rapidly increasing incomes.

So their ability to support themselves financially now is very limited, the survey shows.

For instance, about 60 per cent of people have to depend on other family members to make a living.

The survey shows senior citizens care about social issues, including unemployment, the environment and economic development.

However, they have few opportunities to participate in social activities, Yuan said.

Their lives are quite dull, and they spend too much time indoors.

The survey found that the most important leisure activity for 85 per cent of old people is watching TV. More than 60 per cent say their main work is doing the housework.

At the same time, old people know very little about computers, mobile phones and digital cameras.

About 40 per cent of those interviewed have a mobile phone, but many of them do not know how to use them properly.

(China Daily 10/17/2005 page3)

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