A look inside a healthcare center in N China's Qinhuangdao
Ning Hong

China faces the challenge of an aging demographic. In its latest 2020 census, the number of people aged above 65 years old rose to 13.5 percent of the country's 1.4 billion population from nearly 9 percent in 2010. 

In the coastal city of Qinhuangdao in north China's Hebei Province, a well-equipped community center that serves the health and wellness needs of the retirees has been established, one example of the country's focus on developing services to meet the needs of the elderly. 

Elderly people in the community are among the regular visitors. 

"There are many activities such as choral singing, dance lessons, painting and calligraphy," Li Xiaoqin, who often spends a whole day in the center, said.

"We all like the beautiful environment and fancy equipment in the community service center, the staff here are also very kind," said Zhang Xiaoling, another frequent visitor.

Meng Xianghui, a member of the community band, often comes to the center to practice. "The environment of the community is very good, which promotes the development of the local economy. Because when you are living and working in peace and contentment, you feel different psychologically and spiritually," he said.

The community of Xishan has a population of 23,000, and nearly a quarter is over 65 years old. The service center provides support for cultural and sport activities, and more importantly, assists the elderly with their healthcare needs.

The local government provides subsidies for those in need of rehabilitation devices, such as a wheelchair or a glucometer. People can rent these devices with a discount, and they can keep the item if they rent it for over six months.

"We have introduced a third-party company and set up a pilot program for the rental of rehabilitation equipment. The municipal government subsidizes 60 percent, the district government subsidizes 20 percent, and residents only need to pay 20 percent of the funds," said Zhao Jingsi, community Party secretary of Xishan Community.

Psychological counseling is also available to residents in Xishan. Chen Yanfang is a university psychology teacher hired by the community to provide psychological guidance to local residents, especially the elderly people.

"For employees, we relieve their work pressure, link emotions, improve work efficiency, and monitor their mental health. For the elderly, we make assessments and provide psychological support for some of them who are widowed, empty-nesters, or disabled," Chen said.

There are volunteers who bring them food and daily necessities.

"Our country advocates home and day care services. In our community, we are actively exploring new measures. For the active elderly, we invite them to the community. For the disabled and semi-disabled, we organize community volunteers and cooperate with third-party service agencies, to provide door-to-door assistance with bathing, dining, and travel services," said Liu Chunmei, director of Xishan sub-district local government.

Xishan is located in Beidaihe, which is a popular retirement resort in China. Many sanatoriums in Beidaihe date back to the middle of the last century.

"We follow the concept of serving people's health in a full cycle, from disease prevention, diagnosis, control, treatment and rehabilitation. We have neurological, bone and joint, cardiopulmonary and respiratory rehabilitation." said Chen Gang, deputy director of Beidaihe Convalescent Hospital.

Healthcare institutions have focused on improving traditional Chinese medicine to prevent the onset of diseases.

"Prevention requires the use of traditional Chinese medicine to treat diseases before they occur, so that patients do not develop the disease. We intervene as soon as we can in the rehabilitation to reduce disability and improve life quality," Chen said.

The health and wellness help the elderly receive in Beidaihe is a preview of China's efforts to develop the life sciences and health industries in Qinhuangdao. Measures to promote trade, biomedicine and the digital economy are in place to complement the city's reputation for being a wellness and tourism hub.

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