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Lessons for young and old at mixed-use center

China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-28 09:36

YINCHUAN - Waves of children's laughter, giggles and cheers echo in the halls of a nursing home for the elderly in Yinchuan city, Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

The Jinseyangguang Nursing Home, which means golden sunshine in Chinese, is not a typical senior care center as it pairs the very old with the very young, with its kindergarten located inside the nursing home.

At 3:20 pm from Monday to Friday, children and residents come together in a variety of planned activities and "Plants vs Zombies" is the most popular one these days, according to Hao Qianshuai, head of the nursing department.

"Young staff wearing plastic buckets take the role of zombies while kids have peashooters with pingpong balls as their 'bullets'," Hao said.

More than 20 older adults ages 79 to 100, sit in the spacious bright hall to share in the happiness of the game, he added.

Activities such as catching pingpong balls with chopsticks and singing contests are also well-received by the elderly with applause and cheers.

"Elderly people are like children who want to be praised. It's not enough to focus on their food and living facilities, their spiritual needs should also be properly addressed," Hao said.

The nursing home was opened in March by Hao Baozheng, who was involved in preschool education for more than 10 years. To make the nursing home more lively, Hao Baozheng took kids from his kindergarten to the center and designed a range of weekly activities that can meet the needs of both the young and the old.

It was a rough start, Hao Baozheng said, as some kids were noisy and some found it difficult to bond with the elderly residents. "But as they got more familiar with each other, everyone got along better and things ran more smoothly," he said.

Han Shufen, a 79-year old resident, said "It's fun and interesting to get up every morning and see the kids doing exercises downstairs and hear the pitter-patter of their little feet."

According to Hao Baozheng, parents of the kindergarten students are very supportive of the activities.

"Many parents have even come to participate themselves," he said.

In recent years, China's aging population has continued to rise with about 249.5 million people 60 or above as of the end of last year, representing 17.9 percent of the country's total population, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

To ensure more senior citizens spend their twilight years in comfort, China has issued a series of policies and measures to expand the supply of elderly care services, develop community-based and home-based elderly care and encourage integrated care with medical services.

Local governments have also seen achievements in the development of new ways of elderly care, including the model of kindergarten plus nursing home.

"The old can learn new things from the kindergartners and the kids can listen to interesting stories from the aged," Hao Baozheng said.

"Everyone will be old eventually and elderly care institutions should think more about ways to increase the sense of happiness of their senior citizens," he added.

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