As of 1 July 2013, elderly parents in China can sue their children for not visiting them often enough. The law reforms aim to encourage better care of older people, as China’s elderly population is forecast to more than double over the next 40 years.
Traditionally in China children care for elderly parents at home, rather than having them admitted to an aged care facility. But with the one-child policy still firmly in place, the burden of caring for ageing parents has fallen to sole offspring, making this tradition more difficult to uphold, especially in families where children have moved to the cities in pursuit of work.
Yang Youling, head of an aged care centre in QuFu, has said that many children do not visit their parents at all, to avoid being criticised for not caring for them at home. “The children are ashamed of being seen,” she said.
The amended law for the protection of the rights and interests of the elderly will include visitation requirements, and a stipulation that employers approve the leave necessary for children to undertake these visits. The Government has not specified how often these visits should be.
The law prohibits ‘discrimination, insult, ill-treatment and abandonment’ of the elderly, and allows them to seek legal recourse.
To read more about the law reforms in China read this article at The Age.
It’s not often I find myself agreeing with the Chinese Government, but I am a fan of the thought process behind this new law. That’s not to say I don’t think people will abuse it – there will always be those who take advantage of the situation – I just think it’s a step in the right direction.
If shame at what others will think is causing children to abandon their parents, then I applaud the Chinese Government for taking steps to reduce the stigma. Caring for elderly parents in your own home is a lovely idea (for some, at least), but it is an outdated one. For most, working full-time is a necessity, not a choice, even with two breadwinners in a household. Staying at home to care for elderly parents is not always an option, which is why aged care facilities were created.
Aged care facilities are not, however, a place to store unwanted relatives. I think it’s great that power has been given back to all the parents who have been abandoned and forgotten by their kids. If your kids have dumped you on the steps of an aged care facility and run for the hills then I think the ungrateful brats deserve to be sued.
What do you think? Is it okay to sue your kids if they abandon you in an aged care facility? Would you do it? Or are bored parents in China going to use this as a way to blackmail their offspring into visiting more often?
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