‘A Chinese proverb states that ‘an elderly person at home is like a living golden treasure’. At the moment, around 40% of Chinese older people live with their children, but in Beijing they have a policy to increase that to 90% by 2020.
‘China even passed a new ‘elderly rights law’ against ‘neglecting or snubbing elderly people’, which mandates that people should visit their elderly parents often, no matter how far away they live, with fines or prison sentences as penalties.
‘Western traditions would rightly resist state interference on this scale. But France too passed an elderly care law in 2004 requiring its citizens to keep in touch with their elderly parents. They did this after a heatwave left 15,000 elderly dead, many of whom were left for weeks before they were found.’
These words are taken verbatim from a recent speech by the Health Secretary for England Jeremy Hunt. Given the growing number of pensioners and squeezed social care budgets, he was asking whether we should take more personal responsibility for our families – and looking at how other countries managed.