China is aging rapidly, and during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), the population over the age of 60 could exceed 300 million, reaching about 20% of the total population.
If 7-14% of the total population is 65 years old or older, it is an “aging society”, and if 15-20% of the population is 65 years old or older, it is an “aging society” or “super-aging society”. 21% of the population he is over 65 years old.
The fact that China will have over 200 million people aged 65 and over by the end of 2021, accounting for more than 14% of the total population, means China is approaching an aging society. In addition, China’s aging population is aging at an even faster rate as the “baby boomers” born between 1962 and 1976 enter their 60s this year and the population aged 65 and over is growing rapidly. will increase with Since 2018, the pace has been relatively fast, averaging around 10 million per year.
China’s population aged 60 and over was 50 million in 1970, about 100 million in 1991, about 200 million in 2013, and will grow to 300 million in 2025 and 400 million in 2033. expected to reach people. The population over the age of 60 is projected to double every 20 years.
China faces the daunting challenge of an aging population, but there is no need to be overly pessimistic about demographic change. First, of the population over 60, 55.83% of him is between 60 and 69, 30.61% of her is between 70 and 79, and 13.56% of her is over 80. increase. 2021 Census.
Second, China will continue to enjoy a demographic dividend even though its working-age population is projected to decline after 2012. The country’s working-age population, from her 16 to her 59, is estimated to exceed 800 million by 2040. 880 million in 2020, according to the Census.
Third, governments are stepping up efforts to address the challenges posed by a rapidly aging society. During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), the Central Authority optimized the relevant legal system, improved the social insurance system, and promoted quality services for the elderly. China has 329,000 nursing homes and other facilities for the elderly, with 8.21 million beds in 2020. And by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period, there are more than 9 million beds for the elderly, 55% of which are in aged care. institution.
Aging also refers to the physiological changes that people experience as they age. The only worrying factor in aging is the decline in health and physical vitality.
According to the World Health Organization, 60% of an individual’s health and quality of life problems are lifestyle related. Although humans cannot stop aging, it helps us maintain physical health as we age, and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent and/or manage chronic diseases.
Therefore, promoting a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness is a key element of the “Healthy China 2030” blueprint published in 2016. It states that staying healthy is part of an individual’s responsibility.
Moreover, the central leadership’s goal is to build a “Healthy China” by 2035. Thanks to the “Healthy China” initiative, China has made remarkable progress in terms of health. For example, the Chinese person’s life expectancy increased to 77.93 years in 2020, and 37.2% of the population does regular exercise.
But healthy aging is much more than that. It means being physically and mentally healthy. In this way, social adaptation, that is, the flexibility to adapt to the environment and its changes, is important for the health of the elderly.
Healthy aging also means helping most older people stay healthy. That is why Healthy Aging emphasizes the importance of the social environment. Aging societies require the integration of health protection and socio-economic and cultural development. This means that we need to provide health education to people at every life stage to control and prevent non-communicable diseases.
The 14th Five Year Plan period is critical for governments and societies to meet the challenges of an aging population. More importantly, individuals and families need to recognize that healthy aging is associated with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good physical health.
The author is Deputy Director of the Center for Aging Society Research at Pangol Institute.
Views do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.