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Health care reforms to also help the elderly

AS part of the city's health care reforms, a new system for seniors will be set up to meet the growing demands of this segment of the population, authorities said over the weekend. Even non-local seniors will benefit as there is a growing number moving to the city to help look after their children or grandchildren. They usually encounter difficulties in seeing a doctor as they do not have a hukou, or permanent residency. Vice Mayor Shen Xiaoming said the system will have in-home services, community facilities and professional care centers. "We encourage healthy seniors to live in their own home - they can take care of themselves if basic services are available - to make room for those in real need." The system is aimed to relieve pressure on hospitals and nursing homes due to the city's rising elderly population. The government will give subsidies to those living at home, Shen said. The elderly who take care of themselves are expected to receive discounts on services such as haircuts. About 23 percent of the city's population is 60 years old or more while there are only 97,800 beds available in 625 care centers. Thus, only 3 percent of seniors can be cared for in nursing homes. More non-locals are coming to the city as their children have settled here and they were invited to help look after grandchildren. In winter, the story of an elderly cobbler from Jiangsu Province created an online debate after he was photographed working outdoors on one of the coldest days of the year. Some criticized his relatives for allowing the old man to work. About 200,000 people will reach the age of 60 every year from this year to 2015, double the figure over the past five years, according to the Shanghai Research Center on Aging. It is estimated that there will be 4.3 million Shanghai residents over the age of 60, or 30 percent of the registered population, within the next five years.

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