China has more than 1,300 elderly who go missing each day in the country. That is about 500,000 per year, according to a recent report by CNN.
These senior citizens are over the age of 65 and account for 80 percent of the total missing persons in China, says the CNN report.
In China, the elderly rely on their children for financial support, and caring for aging parents is one of China’s biggest cultural beliefs, says Telegraph. However, younger individuals have been hit hard by the economic changes in their country. Which means parents are often left to care for themselves, while their children focus on their careers and personal wealth.
Behind The Missing People
According to the Zhongmin Social Assistance Institute, there are an estimated 1,370 total people that go missing each day, which equates to 500,000 per year. Most of them, according to Telegraph, go missing in rural communities or smaller cities. These are areas where the younger children must leave to find work in the bigger cities.
It was estimated that 80 percent of the missing elderly are found in the bigger cities, while 50 percent are in the rural areas, says Telegraph. The one-child policy in China has resulted in a shortened workforce and a quickly aging community.
In the CNN report, it was estimated that 25 percent of those that went missing had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia, while 72 percent suffered from another type of memory impairment.
Even after those who went missing were found, 25 percent went missing again, reports CNN.
In 2013, Beijing established a law that compelled adult children to visit and care for their aging parents, says Telegraph. The law set rules that required children to care for the spiritual need of their aging parents.
The measures were difficult to enforce, but it was still an effort on Beijing’s part to lessen the number of elderly left to care for themselves or go missing.
The Numbers Are Expected To Get Worse
China’s one-child law was overturned in 2015, but that is not going to help the number of aging individuals and limited children to care for them. The country has an estimated 114 million who are over the age of 65, reports CNN. That number surpasses any other developing country in the world.
There are also an estimated 90 million who will leave work and retire in 30 years, says CNN. That means that the potential for the missing person count is likely to increase rather than decrease. Even with the overturn of the one-child rule, there are still families with only one child, and that one child will likely need to leave home to find employment; yet again leaving their elderly parents at home alone.
It is estimated that by 2030, China will have the largest aging population on Earth, says CNN. By 2050, 30 percent of the Chinese population will be over 60, reported Telegraph.
The increase of elderly will also affect China’s already rising healthcare costs, says CNN. It is estimated that the costs will increase $20 trillion as soon as 2030 because of the aging population.