I was a news junkie before I launched this site, so I’ve just added one more category when I click around for interesting headlines from across the globe. Every once in a while, there’s a news story I know would have attracted my attention whether I ran TheNotMom.com or not.
“Childless Elderly Couples Turned Away from Nursing Homes”
Last July, the government of China did away with a longstanding policy requiring nursing homes to get signed permission from immediate relatives before admitting new residents. Apparently, China’s people don’t march in the lock-step many Americans envision, because nursing homes across the country are still turning away anyone without a close relative’s OK.
The article interviews women who’ve searched for more than 10 years to be accepted by a long-term care facility, frustrated to learn that a change in national policy has no teeth at all. By holding on to the previous rules, nursing homes are also neglecting seniors whose adult children live abroad and those whose children have died (remember: China has had a one-child edict in force for all citizens for the past 34 years).
Wang Jin’e, 77, said her only child died 15 years ago and she and her husband have been searching for a nursing home ever since.
“After my son died of a heart attack,” she said, “my husband and I lost the only person we could depend upon and our hope for any sort of life. It has been a nightmare for us. None of the nursing homes in Beijing are willing to take the risk of accepting us.”
Risk? Ah, yes. This is all about money. A loved one’s approving signature translates into somebody willing to pay the bill when you really get sick. If I lived in China, I might be totally screwed, just like Wang Jin’e. It seems that in China, one’s own financial resources aren’t good enough to garner an institution’s confidence.
The Women’s Federation reports that according to estimates in the 2010 China Health Statistic Yearbook issued by the government’s Ministry of Health, at least 76,000 only children aged from 15 to 30 years old die every year, leaving their elderly parents childless. Surely, there are more.
In China, it’s not about empty nesters; it’s about older adults having no say in their own affairs, and certainly no stature in their communities, without an adult child, preferably one that lives nearby. For those tracking and speaking out against the travesties of the world, here’s one more.