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Do we care enough for our elderly parents?

15:38 UK time, Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Chinese government is considering making it a legal duty for people to visit their aged parents. What do think of the proposal?

Under a draft legal amendment, elderly people could go to court to claim their right to be physically and mentally looked after by their children.

China is dealing with the problems of a growing elderly population. An eighth of the population of China is over the age of 60, and more than half of them live alone.

Taking care of parents is part of traditional Chinese culture but migration and work pressures have been fracturing family ties.

Should people be legally bound to take care of their aged parents? What is the attitude towards elderly care in your culture? What measures would you propose?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.


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  • Comment number 1.

    "Under a draft legal amendment, elderly people could go to court to claim their right to be physically and mentally looked after by their children."

    It's only a matter of time before someone tries such a law here, under the Human Rights Act or something. I'll predict that the very parents that demand their 'right' to have their children paid for by society, will be the ones demanding their right to have said children look after them later. You can see the pattern.

  • Comment number 2.

    i cannot see such a law being passed in the western world; but i believe it is a moral obligation to care for any family member.

  • Comment number 3.

    In one way a mandate would remind children that they have elderly parents and that they have a duty to protect them in the other way, how can you mandate something like this? I think there should be more awareness and training about how to identify the subtle affects of aging and when a parent needs family intervention. This is a slippery slope as many parents are in denial about their aging and their ability to take care of themselves on their own. The elderly have various needs and children do need to keep a watchful eye and consult with the family doctor on their parent's overall health. There are also daily living requirements too. Is your parent eating? bathing? Dressing? Ambulatory? Confused? These are subtle changes that most children don't notice but are serious signs that a parent may need an intervention like live-in help, nursing care etc. Also, if a parent doesn't call you very often then calls you out of the blue, this could be an indication that they need more help than you think.

  • Comment number 4.

    Should people be legally bound to take care of their aged parents? What is the attitude towards elderly care in your culture? What measures would you propose?

    To be fair.... You aren't legally obliged to take care of your children so why should your children be obliged to take care of you? If you did a good job as a parent then I am sure your children will want to look after you when the time comes, if you didn't then tough.

  • Comment number 5.

    China maybe has or is achieving higher moral standards than we do in this basket case of a Nation.

    If you dont care for your parents then you really are a sad pathetic person.

    Parents gave us the love and protection we needed as children and often are thier to help in difficult times, so we have a duty to look in on them and help where we can.

    Down with this excessive individualism UP with Care and Compassion. My parents are long dead and I still miss them, one day you will not have them, so think about them for a while.

    Good for China.

  • Comment number 6.

    If you need to make it a law, then clearly people don't feel the moral obligation in the first place. Laws aren't usually created to make us do something we all already do... Doesn't say much for your society...

  • Comment number 7.

    Also, the care of aging parents usually falls on the daughter or eldest daughter. This is a huge responsibility for the caregiver and its very important that the other family members offer support and help to the caregiver like talking to the doctor, keeping abreast of the parent's need and care, showing an iota of interest, Taking their parent shopping, to the movies or some fun, planned excursion. An occasional surprise is very helpful.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    It would be a good thing if some families were closer and had stronger bonds. I come from a very close, if small, family, where we do look after one another - and I think our lives are the better for it. However, I'm not sure how you could legislate for it - successive governments have promoted it, by removing support from the state. Whether some have the moral fortitude to "do the right thing" is questionable though.

  • Comment number 10.

    If a person has paid sufficient NI contributions then the State should have a legal duty to look after them.

  • Comment number 11.

    I believe most children do try to take care of the parents ,unless of course they the children do not feel they were looked after has children themselves some adults are not caring of the children allthough I believe they are in a minority ,its unfortunate that in this more mobile society children have sometimes by necessity moved far away from parents and are not able to give as much care as required,and the parent relies on neighbours to assist or friends still in the same vicinity

  • Comment number 12.


  • Comment number 13.

    I don't think I would be too bothered about having the kids visit if the only reason was avoiding being fined.
    Its the support & caring that matters. Will we have to stamp a card to tell Social Services they have been? Can't wait.
    I never have got on with my father. He is past 90 and its not easy but we go and help twice a week because I consider it my duty. At the same time we have to do for the kids who are now past 40. Hey ho!

  • Comment number 14.

    I thought China had intergenerational families living under the same roof? I can understand a mandate like this being passed in places like the USA and Britain where most children live sepaarately but not in China unless of course, children have moved to the cities and left their parents on farms in the country.

  • Comment number 15.

    Old parents ?

    Peter Kay got it right and no messin.

  • Comment number 16.

    This one's a bit of a can of worms.
    "Under a draft legal amendment, elderly people could go to court to claim their right to be physically and mentally looked after by their children". Raises a few questions, such as....

    What about the elderly that don't have kids, either through choice or misfortune?

    What if the parents had spent their lives being horrible & abusive, would the child still be expected to provide care?

    What if the children now live far away,possibly another country, who has to up sticks & move, the vulnerable elderly person or a whole family?

    What if the parents are financially, physically & mentally able to care for themselves. Will the law still be upheld?

    What happens if the parents have serious medical conditions that their children are unable to care for.

    What happens if the children have medical conditions leaving them unfit to care for elderly parents.

    Considering China observes the "1 child policy" what happens when someone with a deceased spouse is suddenly expexted to take on 4 elderly relatives?

    For all of these reasons (& probably more I haven't thought of) it can't be a workable policy. Of course any sense of concience & morality should lead us to want to care for our parents as we get older (family fueds & cases of mistreatment aside) But for some people taking on another member to what may already be a stretched family, both in terms of budget & stress, It will prove to be impossible.
    Also many families would struggle to reverse the "my house my rules" relationship. My mum, 64, & both mentally & physically fit (has a far better social life than I do!) would be welcome to live with me or any of my sisters should she ever need to. However she told us recently that she has already picked the nursing home she wants to go to (if she ever needs to be in that environment) & set the money aside to pay for it. She told us (while a bit drunk at christmas!) that she did this because living with any of us "Would drive us both mad" & because she doesn't want to be a financial burden to any of us. Whilst our doors will always be open to her it's nice to know that she's made these plans & neither she nor me & my sisters will ever be unexpectedly forced into a difficult situation that could harm a great relationship.

    China would do better to look at why so many elderly people are not being cared for, a stiffening of concience does tend to coincide with a massive influx of cash, possibly time to remember what's important. (Clue: it's not the green foldy stuff)

  • Comment number 17.

    Right wing governments always favour this sort of self help, because the wealthy people they represent can easily support their own parents and resent having to pay taxes to support other old people. It is the same philosophy that has been applied in the UK to student fees.

    It is interesting to see how far the Chinese government has swung away from its nominally left wing version of Marxism.

  • Comment number 18.

    The possibility of this Chinese legislation probably comes on the back of the 'one child' only policy some decades ago?

    In the interim, as we all know, China and it's financial/production economy has exploded with huge migration of people to centres of production, thus leaving their families and parents behind - however reluctantly.

    The Chinese government appear to be taking a practical approach - in other words - if you start a policy - then you are responsible for any negative outcomes?

  • Comment number 19.

    Well, that will make everyone happy won't it.

    The Chinese parents will know that their kid is only there because the Party is forcing her to put in an appearance.

    The kids will feel ever so grateful that mum and dad are forcing them to disrupt their own lives and families to waste time with controlling parents who didn't have the good sense to prepare for their own age by forming healthy social networks independent of their child.

    And the Party gets to exert a bit more control over everyone, whilst setting a precedent to monitor anything that is not yet under regulation "for the greater good".

    A real win-win situation if ever there was one.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm sure someone who never visits or cares for their elderly parents will develop deep compassion and interest when legally enforced to by the state...

    Not sure what is worse- your children not caring about you, or your children being forced to pretend to care about you.

  • Comment number 21.

    It depends on whether you have nice and decent parents. Not everyone does. It's a bit idyllic to apply to everyone.

  • Comment number 22.

    Since 1996 the Chinese have had a law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Aged which already seems more than we have but basic things like pensions and free health care are absent for many elderly Chinese as they are duties only at local government level in China and whilst 'encouraged' seem not to be mandatory.

    One would guess that as China grows in prosperity through its winning the global competition for trade it will be able to afford more social care whilst we will be able to afford less as we carry on losing global trade share.

  • Comment number 23.

    My father always said, "The upright man is far above the law," and this certainly applies here.

    If you're a decent, ethical person, you are going to ensure that your parents are well cared for anyway.... and if you are not, no amount of laws will do any good.

    Alas this is academic, my parents are long gone, both having dropped dead whilst in their late 60s and still healthy: but had they survived to an age and condition where they needed to be looked after there would have been no question about it.

  • Comment number 24.

    Personally, I want to look after my one remaining parent because he looked after me when I was a kid.
    There are plenty negligent parents though, and if the spawn of these people don't want to care for them in their dotage then they're just reaping what they've sown.

  • Comment number 25.

    "This Law if passed would save the taxpayer millions in the u.k? But how could you inforce it? no one could work full time .

  • Comment number 26.

    I cannot see how forcing people to visit their parents is workable.
    For a start, if you're 100s of miles away it would become a very time-consuming and tiring chore. Many people simply don't have the time, they are busy trying to eke out a living. How often would one be required to visit one's parents? If there are several siblings, are they to be made to share the chore equally? Strange as it may seem, some people don't want their offspring hanging round too often. They've brought them up, helped them develop into independent beings, and are quite happy to be left alone. What about parents who retire to foreign climes? Would the requirement still stand?

    Ultimately, it would lead to resentment and probably conflict that can be avoided. I am very happy for those with close families, but accept that a lot of us aren't close. I can go for months without speaking to my siblings, it doesn't cause us any problems. Before she died I would visit my Mum (a round trip of some 300 miles) at least once a month. To be honest, she wasn't fussed about me being there, so why bother?

  • Comment number 27.

    Once again I come back to the Muslim (and others) way. Having lived for many years in Gulf, Sharia Countries all I say is this.

    There are no old peoples homes in these countries. From pre-birth to death the extended family and friends look after everyone, whatever their condition and whatever the costs, which are obviously shared.

    I am not saying it's right or wrong so I don't need any HYsayers drumming into the usual anti me/muslim policy response. Most of them have no experience of "outside UK" so just can't compare.

    It's just a method that these people use. It works and, before you rush into womens rights, alcohol etc. etc. don't bother. I can legally drink and have done since 1977. Women can drive, get jobs and not be covered in black in most Gulf countries (not all).

    The treatment of the old in UK is abysmal, by both (some) families & Government. They have paid their taxes and NI and it's not their fault that sucessive Governments spend it straight away instead of investing it. You will all get old one day and your views will change, as your old age future looks dramatically worse than even now.

    My final comment is this. Start a pension scheme as young as possible, even if its a couple of quid a month. DON'T leave it until you are 40 or more. Do without other non-essential things and put the money away - in "x" years time you will be glad that you did!!

  • Comment number 28.

    In old age I would be far more comfortable piddling my pants in front of a nice nurse in the old peoples home than receiving an admonishment from my daughter for staining her carpet. No I do not want any of my kids looking after me - I doubt they would want to either. They have their own lives to lead and I don't want some social geek robbing them of that.

  • Comment number 29.

    Stark contrast to the British principle of the last three Governments of reducing payments to the elderly below the level of inflation to ensure they die earlier! Thatcher began the process to reduce the state pension from 60% of the pensions to 40% as the private pensions were so strong, Blair/Brown then reduced the private pensions to poverty by taking 5 billi0on a year out of them and now Osbourne is linking the increases to a triple guarantee that excludes council tax! Maybe it is time we had a law to the effect that you have to have a pension at the poverty level instead of at 60% of poverty level! Ironically the sum to do so is being paid as part of the national insurance already but the Government is anxious to use it as it does car tax to bolster their position!

  • Comment number 30.

    From the heading to this item it appears that "aged" is being equated to "over 60"

    There are millions of over-60s who are fit and healthy and getting on with their lives. They clearly do not need to be looked after.

    This is another of the ageist things that is apparently OK - if you are old, you must want/need visits from your children, so let's make it a legal obligation.

    I sincerely hope this will never happen in the West - China has a different culture.

    My wife and I are both over 60, but do not see ourselves as "aged" except in jest. My daughter does in fact visit us regularly and we are always pleased to see her, but if circumstances dictate, now or in the future, that she is no longer able to, we should understand and accept this.

    This seems like another HYS for the sake of it. Who gives a stuff what China does anyway? Haven't they done enough damage to us all, what with stealing all our industries and emitting more pollution that the rest of us put together? Copying something done in China seems plain stupid to me.

  • Comment number 31.

    No we don't although I am pleased to say that our late mother wanted for nothing and had a fantastic end of life but she gave a lot to us in the first place.

    Sadly many of her friends were not so lucky with their relatives only turning up at the funeral to squabble over the proceeds.

    Having said that I also know of elderly parents who are planning to leave nothing for their children or for their latter years care.

    It used to be that the eldest child, normally a male would take over the family home and in return would care for the parents in their old age but our society has become very fragmented with many families becoming strangers.

    Although I understand the principle and beleive it to be morally right both my wife and myself would shudder at the prospect of having to look after her parents.

  • Comment number 32.

    Let hope we adopt it here!!..

    Since I don't need any help from my children just yet, I can always sell my visiting credits to those more needy? Yes? Very lucrative!

    I could even start a outsourced management service, and franchises. The opportunities are endless!

    This time next year Rodders....

  • Comment number 33.

    "9. At 5:03pm on 06 Jan 2011, richardjackson99 wrote:

    It would be a good thing if some families were closer and had stronger bonds. I come from a very close, if small, family, where we do look after one another - and I think our lives are the better for it."

    Fair comment - but not all people are exactly like you. My extended family consists of people we never see and merely exchange greetings with at birthdays and Christmas. It suits us perfectly, thank you. We choose not to live in each other's pockets. I cannot see how it would be a "good thing" if we were closer. We clearly do not have enough in common to make us close now, and some sort of legal obligation would really upset matters. Some people prefer not to be close to anyone, others carve out their own particular circle of friends. What's wrong with that? Is not that a "good thing" too - for them?

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    This country has an abysmal record when it comes to looking after elderly parents. I know of an aquaintance who can`t wait till her elderly mother dies so she can inherit her house. This kind of attitude is beneath contempt. We all have a moral obligation to look after our aging population, but it`s just that, a moral obligation and no amount of legislation will force people into changing their attitudes. All it will do is cause resentment towards their parents.

  • Comment number 36.

    People these days will tell you just how busy they are - too busy to cook meals, volunteer their skills and services, help their children's education by reading to them at bedtime - but, funnily enough, they have plenty of time to dine out, play golf, and watch the telly until late into the night. So how on earth can they be expected to look after elderly relations?

    Single-parent families are the worst culprits. Too busy procreating in order to claim extra social security handouts, and too busy to check on their youngsters' movements and worry about them half the night as they roam the streets in and out of pubs looking for more potential fathers. Rather than living in single-occupancy properties, thereby denying more worthy families a home, they ought to move back in with their parents and spend time looking after them.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Do we care enough for our elderly parents"? is the HYS Q

    As an addendum to my initial post regarding the basis of this question and China ....?

    I would also like to point out the insidious and increasing ageism that is portrayed via TV., and churned out via news media in the UK?

    If it's true that positive images across all media are beneficial for civilised and integrated social harmony - then why are elders always portrayed as burden on society in the UK today? It's time there were more positive images of elders and respect for them.

    Let's not forget - one day it could be YOU who are treated badly and regarded as a burden - sooner than you think!

  • Comment number 38.

    Often no pension, one child and crisis in family traditions.
    Some elderly have never left their village in the mountains.
    Relations however are still solid and social.
    Only greed and show off are damaging...
    Is China different?

  • Comment number 39.

    Absolutely we need a massive hike in State care for the elderly and we can easily afford it depite the attrocious lies of this disgusting government and thier todies. However you too have a responsibility to your parents when they are old and infirm just to see it they are doing ok.

    I would impose a Robin hood tax on the City, these thieves and wasters have too much contribute little other than self interest that has harmed the country. Take it off them and fund elderly care....and all the rest.

    If you are like me and remember your Mum and Dad telling you what it was like during the War and all the laughs and tears that went with it, you will return the love naturally. You will miss your folks when you dont have them.

    Compassion-Socialism 1. Free market 0.


  • Comment number 40.

    No that is why in this country we pay tax so the state has the responsibility We have family's so our children can pay tax to keep those that do not have children

  • Comment number 41.

    I dont know about children looking after parents,most parents I know cant wait for their kids to leave.It seem common nowadays for many children? to still be hanging around at their parents houses now till they are well in their fourties.Then we get the divorced/seperated ones who want to move back in.
    Of course our kids(most of 'em)couldn't give a damn about their parents with their Im alright jack mentallity and they cant help being old but they could stop at home attitudes. twenty years or so (it may come quicker than we think)when the oil boom finally comes to an end euthanasia will be encouraged, so our siblings dont have to stab us in the back what they think is theirs,to stop you hanging on to anything.
    Looking after the elderly? why most of 'em still cant look after themselves... .LOL..

  • Comment number 42.

    I don't need a law to tell me what my responsibilities are, I know what I need to do and do it. I'm now in my 60's and it wont be long before I have no parents and then will become the senior member of my family. I would never, ever, consider going to court to force my children to have to look after me in any way. If they do not want to do it voluntarily then I don't want them to do it. I'm quite confident that that situation will never arise. I find it a very sad prospect that this kind of legislation should be considered neccessary in any country.

  • Comment number 43.

    It is far more complex than this. Family and extended family which were once the root of all society have been progressively destroyed by unfettered capitalism and ill thought through change in life and work. Of course we should care for our parents in theory but in practice ...... it may be next to impossible.

  • Comment number 44.

    THE bbc are making people panic over the flue there should have been abetter campaign in september its to late now .has for visiting there elderly parents in china good idea but u wont get it in this country its pull the ladder up iam ok here . beartrix

  • Comment number 45.

    It is a duty and honour to take care of parents.

    Here in the UK we are all too eager to place them in nursing homes.

    I grew up in an extended family and so did my children. My parents were an integral part of our family life and my mother lived with us for 20 years. My children grew up knowing how to relate to older people and, I feel that they are better, more caring adults for it.

  • Comment number 46.

    40. At 5:59pm on 06 Jan 2011, RICH588 wrote:
    No that is why in this country we pay tax so the state has the responsibility We have family's so our children can pay tax to keep those that do not have children


    I do hope you don't think you can discharge your moral responsibilities by simply paying a tax. Do you not have compassion and love for your closest ones?

  • Comment number 47.

    Should people be legally bound to take care of their aged parents?
    Looks like another get out by the Government.
    Sadly BBCNews seems to want to follow their pay masters.

  • Comment number 48.

    Most parents do everything they can for their offspring, but others DO NOT. You reap what you sow, its as simple as that

  • Comment number 49.

    This is the kind of nonsense that can only be imposed in a non-democratic society, such as China.

    To be honest, while this may have made sense many years ago when parents generally looked after their children's welfare, today, the generally poor quality of parenting would make this a totally unreasonable imposition on the children whose lives have been screwed up by their parents!

    While there may be some moral argument for this, it cannot be made a legal requirement.

  • Comment number 50.

    21. At 5:15pm on 06 Jan 2011, BradyFox wrote:
    It depends on whether you have nice and decent parents. Not everyone does. It's a bit idyllic to apply to everyone.


    I entirely agree.

    I know everyone says not to speak ill of the dead, but my Mother was a nasty piece of work all her life and to be honest I was glad when she died.

    I didn't go to her funeral and I hadn't seen her for ten years before she died; had I seen her accidentally in the street I would have crossed the road to avoid her. If this law had been in place in this country I would have been quite happy to go to court and take a fine, but I would NOT have taken any responsibility for her care.

    If you have parents you love and care about, I'm genuinely pleased for you but it isn't the case for all of us.

  • Comment number 51.

    17. At 5:12pm on 06 Jan 2011, stanblogger wrote:
    It is interesting to see how far the Chinese government has swung away from its nominally left wing version of Marxism.
    As far as I understand it, the Chinese Communist Party tried to sever family ties as much as possible and replace them with tie to the State. I suppose now the chickens are coming home to roost, so they want to legislate the other way. It's the usual pendulum of government.

  • Comment number 52.

    Agree with 49# John 33 , why on earth should some children want to look after abusive neglectful parents ? their lives have been blighted once why would they want to give the rest of it away to these same people ? .not everyone has loving caring folk it cannot work duty and loyalty have to be earned .

  • Comment number 53.

    Since I am already forced to pay (through taxation) for the support of bone idle 20yr old unmarried mothers, their half dozen sprogs by half a dozen different partners, their current live in, I am now told that elderly parents are my reponsibility. As for the good example of China, do they not have a despicable repution for abandoning baby girls?

  • Comment number 54.

    Any child who has been brought up by caring parents is likely to fell honour/duty bound to care for their aging parents in return. The neglected child will doubtless (perhaps rightly) not feel the same

    As for the arguement that in the UK this could save the state millions, I have to disagree - How much dole money would we have to pay out if over a million social workers and their assorted support/admin/management "staff" found themselves out of a job?

  • Comment number 55.

    Allah has endowed all of us with the love of our parents. Instead of legislating this love, a society only needs to remove the ailments which took this love away.

    A great civilization like China is well positioned to create a balance between material and man, especially when that society is being rebuilt materially.

  • Comment number 56.

    My dear Mum is far too busy for me just to pop over, so its plan ahead, with the understanding that I might have to miss a visit if something else turns up like a trip out with her sister.

    She's just fixing up a webcam because she's feeling guilty at not keeping in touch with her children.

    Way to go, Mum!

  • Comment number 57.

    This wouldn't be a problem if we stopped hanging on to life at any cost. My partner and I didn't have kids to look after us in our old age. Come to think of it, why did we have kids in the first place? Anyway, when the time comes and I am either too infirm to move about (ie. I can't wipe my own backside) or don't recognise my kids when they come visiting then why can't I decide to enter the pearly gates at my choosing. In this day and age when there are too many people about we surely cannot go on as we have been doing. Although the easier way is to take me on a cruise and fit an opening stern gate. At least the haddock can have their revenge.

  • Comment number 58.

    For parents good care through government is good with pay tax.

    Nowadays people do prefer to live its own.

    What if someone is complaining about the parent ?

  • Comment number 59.

    Blimey, fancy having children who don't want to see you forced to visit you! It would take everyone back to infants' school..

  • Comment number 60.

    Is separation and distance factors taken into consideration?

    Perhaps the age differential between parents and offspring is another?

    When Western Society lets people aged 70 have babies is that child responsible at 11 when the parent becomes too infirm?

    The true answer is you reap what you sow.

  • Comment number 61.

    My mother lived with us for eleven years after my father died, she gave us, her grandchildren and great grandchildren much pleasure in that time.

    Sadly I recall a British family who came back to the UK a couple of years ago from their Iberian (tax haven?) hideaway to dump one of the aged and failing parents on the steps of a UK hospital, there are some things that really make you despair of the human race and this was was one of them.

    Our old like our very young can be totally dependent upon us and we owe it to them however inconvenient it may prove. Who said life was easy, but it can still be fun even with some accompanying difficulties.

  • Comment number 62.

    First, let me just state that it is a story that we are familiar with and many tend to grapple with. It is not easy because of the modern day pressures and sometimes being away from where you elderly parents live as in my case and my husbands. However, we cared for our elderly parents in the best possible way until they passed away. In the case on my mother in law, she was lucky we lived within Europe and we were shuttling between Denmark and the UK regularly to see to her needs. We weren't forced to do it, we did it because we cared and because of our values, just like many others did and will. But it is interesting because my parents always used to tell us that they wouldn't want us to mortgage our lives for them in their old age and that we should feel free to move and live wherever we wanted and chose to as they could take care of themselves. Whereas, my mum in law wanted us to be there always and we were. There lies the difference! Some want it, some don’t. Govts can legislate but at the end of the day, it is individuals who will have to make the decision to care or not to care based on their values and availability. The same trend seems to be happening even in developing nations and cultures that enjoy more family & extended family support. It is similar to good and bad parenting.

  • Comment number 63.

    It sounds like a plotline from the Simpsons

  • Comment number 64.

    I always felt that I would look after my father in my home when the need arose. Unfortunately, he died quietly in his sleep without ever needing to be looked after. My partner's parents know that if they need our care, they will be more than welcome to live with us. My mother lives next door to my brother and is cared for every day - meals cooked, washing done, bed changed, chauffeur-driven to doctors' and hospital appointments. She needs "outside" help only for showering.

    I don't think that we are unusual in being prepared to care for ourselves, but there is already an enormous trend to expect others to look after the elderly.

    It isn't always possible to provide the level of NURSING elderly people need in a domestic situation, but a family should remain responsible for each other. The mother of a friend of mine lived with her and her husband until a series of strokes made it physically impossible to care for her any longer in the home. She then lived n a very nearby nursing home where she was visited every day after work and brought home for Sunday lunch or Afternoon Tea when she was well enough.

    I don't think you can legislate for people to love and care for the elderly members of their family but people should be aware that they do not cease to be a member of their parents' family the moment they leave home and go it alone.

  • Comment number 65.

    Absurd. How would it be enforced? It would be more difficult to administer than the CSA.
    If I were an incapacitated elderly person, I would not like my carer to be reluctantly forced into looking after me. A resentful carer is likely to cause more harm than good and I can't think of a more unpleasant way to spend the end of ones life being dependent on a potential abuser.

  • Comment number 66.

    If someone is complaining do still need to visit ?

  • Comment number 67.

    This is a problem for the Chinese. Their one child family means that there are four elderly parents for every single family. In most country's this responsibility is shared by several families. If a child moves away to work as many have in China with their huge expansion it is very difficult to visit parents regularly. The one child policy was way ahead of the rest of the world but it will have a this temporary downside

  • Comment number 68.

    Should people be legally bound to take care of their aged parents? What is the attitude towards elderly care in your culture? What measures would you propose?

    What tends to happen in the UK is parents have children to look after them in their old age. The children have different ideas and palm their responsibility off onto someone else. The parents end up in a care home, or die of neglect in hospital. The children tend benefit from their parents estate when their parents die. That's what tends to happen in the UK.

  • Comment number 69.

    As looking-after another person doesn't always come naturally to us all, it would be down-right dangerous to insist on it. It could mean that more of our elderly people become victims of abuse, or manslaughter! In an ideal world, we would all get-on with all of our kin, but sadly life isn't that great, and many children are estranged from their parents, and many with good reason. Let's try & live in the Real World, and ensure Every elderly person in the World receives good quality caring & thoughtful respect, understanding, support, protection, dignity and fairness. It is what we all want for ourselves, isn't it?

  • Comment number 70.

    The Chinese government is considering making it a legal duty for people to visit their aged parents. What do think of the proposal?
    What a brilliant idea, I've always wanted to see the Great Wall of China. Where can I get a ticket?

  • Comment number 71.

    Do we care enough for our elderly parents?
    The Chinese government is considering making it a legal duty for people to visit their aged parents. What do think of the proposal?

    First of all, that is China, which has the largest polulation in the world - so lots of elderly parents and Grandparents to look after.

    Here in the UK, the vast majority of people do visit their aging relatives and take care of them as best they can I am sure - until the state jumps in robs them of their posessions and homes to place them in 'care'.

    Could this be forced on to the public in the UK as well - could it work here in the UK.
    As well as clearing the streets and sweeping the gutters, working until we drop - all as proposed by the 'Big Society Guru himself' I am sure we can all work 23 hours a day 24/7 can't we?.
    Cynical? yes of course!

    Not of looking after our aged relatives I have to say - as I did - I am now the aged relative, but the fact that this will probably be another brilliant idea to be rolled out by our Unillistrious Brainless Coalition under the big neon flashing light heading of "Daves Big Society".

    We all visit our relatives I am sure, I did, but it could be a little difficult when the children emmigrate as they can no longer afford to live in the UK let alone find a good job, afford to attend university here or travel two stations down the line - "That will be £47.50 sir" - per day, running late as usual and pact to the gunnels of course - or only afford to visit their relatives once or twice a year.

    So it is a question and a half really isn't it?

    Our family is dotted all over the place, it could be quite difficult for them, and expensive too now Train fares, Bus fares, Air fares every other fares have shot up again in the UK.

  • Comment number 72.

    In an age where the market is taking over the traditional domain, it is good that the law step in to preserve the age old tradition of taking care of the elders by their children. However, it should not be mandatory but rather the law should encourage in some way.

  • Comment number 73.

    China is trying to LEARN from others' Experience, WHY should everyone be making the SAME Mistakes?
    With Modernisation China avoided the Bread-Lines seen in Russia from US Insistence of All or Nothing Democracy.
    Now China is attempting to avoid the USE, ABUSE & DISCARD Template from Affluent West.

    Taking CARE of Parents is a PRE-PAID Given in most cases. Rather than Legislate I would try to SHAME those Negligent into doing the Right thing first.

    BIG Question is difference in TAXATION & Payroll DEDUCTIONS supposedly for Retirement & Health-Care, in contrast to more Affluent Nations.
    Notably, the Big Complaint where these plans occurred, is that Govt is QUICK to DEDUCT, but Extremely SLOW or Outright RELUCTANT to PAY-UP, citing Lack-of-Adequate-Funds after Systematically RAIDING the Kitty with impunity. Many Govts BORROW from these Funds for Decades at FACE-Value with No Thought for Inflation, which officially ROB Contributors of BILLIONS in Interest. The $ borrowed back-then is often worth 25 cents or less on Repayment, if it occurs at all.

  • Comment number 74.

    It's pretty sad if you need a law to force you to visit and care for your parents or even grandparents. I've never understood how people can be so disconnected from their families, not seeing them for years at a time. My parents are a very active 60 and they are in no way "elderly", I do worry more about my grandmother though. She's 80, still gets around and travels and sometimes even decides to cut her own grass (I think she has fun riding her zero turn mower). But, I can tell age is catching up with her and even though I live 4 hours drive from her, I try to visit once a month or so to make sure everything is good and just to spend some time with her. And it's not just me, my cousins do the same for her. In my opinion, that's the way it should be. I would hate to think of her sitting around lonely, wondering if anyone cared.

  • Comment number 75.

    Is it just me or is the world going mad with so called legal duty?

    It started with 'rights' and yet, even with a compreheensive set of rules to cover the essence of what a human being should expect from every other human being, it wasn't good enough, and we started to cover every darned aspect of potential discrimination, potential damnation, potential inequality.

    Now we are onto 'responsibilities' and yet, even with a comprehensive set of rules to cover the essence of what a human being should be to every other human being because it is contained in our "rights", it isn't good enough, and we have to start prescripting this, that, and the other because someone, somewhere, doesn't believe we have covered all our bases. Do we really, truly believe everyone should behave to a programmed plan?

    Forget this is China, which, surprisingly, had a great core of honour and family at least up and until its several recent "cultural revolutions", it is about the content. We do things because it is a duty and not a privilege or something we do because we care? So spare me the "well that is China for you". Just who are the manipulators of power who appeared to be wired into a machine that will not stop until every human activity is controlled, contrived, insincere and backed up by a law?

    Can we just get back to something more basic like Ten Commandments, updated, of course, to allow for those who don't have a God?

  • Comment number 76.

    Such law would be a last resort for a broken society. Let's hope it is not necessary...

  • Comment number 77.

    In China the one child family has caused this problem. How do I wife is Chinese and I have lived there and my wife has a surviving mother.

    The problem is in the culture, the daughters are required to look after the husbands family leaving her parents without support. If you had a daughter under the one child policy then you have no support as you get older. Having more children ensured that you spread the weight of care through the family and hopefully you had a son.

    Now one of the married couples parents will always be disadvantaged in this way. There are old people dying in the cold and because of lack of food and loneliness.

    Today the husbands are under pressure to buy a house, move to affluent areas or where the work is and the wife must go.

    Yes there are rich women now in China so some of the parents are fine but the percentages are small.

    My wife's mother is not wanting to come to the UK because of language and social difficulties, she would have no friends. She has decided to share a house with other old parents in a commune style accommodation but she is lucky as we can pay for this, some parents will have nothing after coming through the cultural revolution with nothing and missing out on the growth now.

    Daughters still worry but distance and family pressures, the looking after the family and the husbands older parents cause lots of stress and leads to women committing suicide. I do know this for a fact as I lived there and have first hand experience.

    This subject is no joke. Yes there can be 3 generations in a house but only the husbands not the wife's.

  • Comment number 78.

    So from this story we can once again assume the world's media has lied to us for years when they continually told us that older people in China were respected ? Just wait until Rupert Murdoch gets hold of more of our media - he will have us believing there are smart cars being driven by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe on the moon !

  • Comment number 79.

    I know in the US some states have laws on their books making the children financially responsible for their parents if they require public assistance (mostly regarding medical costs) when they are elderly. Thankfully most are not enforced. I also know after spending 18 years being there for my parent at a detriment to my own well being I walked away a couple years ago and am a healthier, happier, more productive citizen for it.

  • Comment number 80.

    Many elderly people today are a lot better off, despite not working, than people in full time work. A vast proportion of a young persons income nowadays goes in rent to a landlord because they can't afford to buy a house, fuel tax to get to work, propping up the NHS they hardly use through taxation and paying for public sector pension schemes they cannot join through the council tax. Leaving zilch to live on.

  • Comment number 81.

    What happens in the UK is the government taxes everyone until death and then taxes their estate after they are dead.

  • Comment number 82.

    The way society is organized in not conducive to taking care of parents.
    For one thing, pushing divorce on people so that they can be sold two washing machines, two houses, two cars, two of everything has left us with a fractured society which benefits divide and destroy elitist intentions to control a population. Now that everyone is living separately, the rules are changed and suddenly the money dissapears and they can't afford to support granny in her old age, money they extracted via taxes all of her finger numbing work life. So we live in our little ticky tacky boxes on the hillside, cut off from a world that requires transportation to get to. This is an architectural problem. Cities are stupidly designed and don't serve people's needs. Why can't granny be left downstairs at adult day care while you rush out the door to work? Oh no! That would be too easy. Better to make it 5 miles away with congested roads and no valet service. The built environment is so happenstance with no amount of thought or planning put into it. We need to fire these elitist social manipulators and take our country back so we can invent systems that are affordable, useful and actually work.

  • Comment number 83.

    If a country does not have a social network into which they can fall in case of emergency via the government, then it is absolutely necessary for the immediate family to help them. China's one child policy is the main cause for this dillema, both husband and wife have no other siblings, essentially they are destined to take care of four old people and yet raise their own child too. In the West we are slowly seeing the decline in retirement benefits, the age to retire is going up every year, the dream of retiring at 62 years old is dead. The reality is that people are living longer, sicker and needing more care than just food and shelter.

  • Comment number 84.

    It isnt child`s business to be worried about the is vice versa, parents have the right to be worried about their children. since every child has a parent system works perfectly. But if China has thought of this, it must have a point. respect.

  • Comment number 85.

    Personally I think that it is the moral and decent responsibilty of everybody to take care of their own parents when they get older. I do however also realize that in todays world for most people it is just not possible to go and visit parents on a regular basis, nor is it always possible to support parents financially. I personally have spent many days wondering about what is going to happen to my own mother when she gets older. She lives on her own (my own father died back in the 70's) and the nearest relative to her is my younger brother who lives about 100 km away but is hardly ever at home as his job involves a lot of travelling. My other brother lives in debt with his wife and young kids at the other end of the country, my sister lives half of the time in America, and I live heavily in debt with my own young family in Finland (my mum still lives in Scotland).
    I also have a grandfather who is still alive and lives on his own as well and who I worry about every single day!
    I do what I can, I phone my mum and grandad at least once every week, but I know that if anything happens then there will be nobody to look after them, I also know that there is no way that most of us (my brothers and sister) could go rushing to see them at the drop of a hat...
    I do admire the spirit of the idea, children should look after their aged parents, but how that 'looking after' is defined has to be carefully considered and under no circumstances should it mean that you have to go and visit your parents every week or that you have to pay for their upkeep or that they have to come and live with you.
    Those of us who really care about our parents will go out of our way to keep in touch with them and let them know how much we love them, those that don't simply won't do much more than send their parents to some old peoples home if that is what the law requires.
    I love my mum and my Grandad and will do whatever I can for them, even if that is only to phone them regularly and to go and visit them whenever my meagre income allows it!

  • Comment number 86.

    Would it not be wonderful if Parents had a a choice of what kind of child they could bring into this world?
    Would it not be equally wonderful if that child had a choice of his/her Parents?
    Life does not work like that.
    Yes..some parents do not care..Yes ..some children do not care..
    Guess this explains why we have Charities called Help the Aged and Save the Children?
    Are these Charities recognised by China?
    Should all of us,Politicians included,be ashamed that we need the help of Charity?

  • Comment number 87.

    How do you force people to show consideration for others? Doesn't that really defeat the central purpose of the exercise, which is presumably to have children show consideration for their parents?

    Under normal conditions, without such a law, children would either visit their parents or they would not.With this law, the first set would continue to visit but the children who otherwise would not have visited their parents will now be forced to do so, and you think that would be a pleasant meeting for either party? Then you need to ask if there is anyone who would not rather be left alone than have an unpleasant visit from a family member?

    Whatever the intentions of such legislation, here are the likely actual outcomes in the real world -

    1. Reduction in economic growth - Children will now have to factor in the traveling and potential legal costs of working far from where they grew up, reducing their career options substantially. In fact this will end up hurting poor rural workers the most since their career opportunities in a growing economy like China come mainly from moving to cities for jobs (the opposite kind of migration - urban to rural - rarely,if ever, happens in developing economies). So now more of these farm workers will likely be stuck in the countryside.

    2. Potential harassment by parents of children (such as jealous ones such as those that are divorced)and a tool for jealous siblings to use against the more enterprising and successful ones.

    3. Increase in the number of lawsuits because it would be very hard to legally define what "taking care of" means in terms of time or money. These costs would naturally vary a lot depending on location within the country and also economic status and expectations of the parents. Who gets to draw up those tables and define these terms? Communist party bureaucrats?

    In short, you cannot legislate people's feelings for each other. My best guess is that this law is disguised as an effort to preserve "traditional values" but well may be a cunning and cynical effort by the government to control migration from rural to urban areas in China.

  • Comment number 88.

    Perhaps in China they could learn from the mistakes we've made in the US ie: such as Social Security, which lets children off the "hook" for their parents. Perhaps they could also skip institutionalized ware houses for the elderly, where no one is happy. They should just skip right to Green House Project homes, which is the model that de-institutionalizes long-term care by restoring individuals to a home in the community. Dr. Bill Thomas is the one who developed this idea and Green House Project organization.

  • Comment number 89.

    China has traditions, laws and culture quite alien to us in the West. Without a deep understanding of those we are hardly entitled to pass judgement, although I can see what lies behind this idea.
    Would I welcome such a law in the UK? Certainly not - we already have too many laws which intrude on personal and family matters. But taking care of elderly parents surely is a MORAL duty, and failure to do so should be socially unacceptable.

  • Comment number 90.

    I would hope that we do care for the well being of every individual. Else we would have at one time or the other been destroyed by some entities pecking order.

  • Comment number 91.

    Its a sad indictment of the world in 2011 that laws are required to force us to care for our own families!! Having lived in several other parts of the world, it always amazed me how much stronger the family bond was than in the UK.
    I can see lawyers rubbing their hands together in joyful anticipation that this bizarre and stupid development will eventually be taken up by the bureaucratic idiots in Brussels, and then forced upon us!!!!!
    What happened to brotherly love?!!

  • Comment number 92.

    Statistics says that the cost of providing care during the last years of life is equal to the cost of care for all previous years of life. Most of us start off healthy in the beginning, then as we age, problems begin piling up until, at the end of our life, many of us are very sick and our health care costs skyrocket.

    The main question being asked is: How to save money? From here, the solution has come in the form of a commission that will decide what conditions to treat and what not to treat.

    Who are we talking about? Who needs these old people? When we are young we work, pay taxes and fund the government treasury depending on how much we pay in taxes and how much we spend as consumers. When we retire, we become deadwood for the state. We don’t produce anything, but become dependent on the government for our needs.

    The commission is to decide how much money to spend on this deadwood, and the judges will be those who receive dividends from this process.

    Here are some ideas for consideration: Can we create a society where people live longer, are happier and at the same time also cost the government less money? What if we teach people how to eat correctly, to move and stay active, learn to love others and think of their neighbors, be in harmony with Nature and come to understand that we are one family?

    We don’t need to decide whether we need this regulation or other types of reform. If we begin to feel ourselves as one family, then we won’t need any reforms. We will be able to make accurate, correct decisions and learn to live long and live happily!

  • Comment number 93.

    Making it a legal duty is all well and good but it would be unworkable in the UK unless they also made it illegal to fall out with your parents for some reason or another. The minimum wage would also have to be increased quite substantially just so people can actually afford to keep running back and forth from one end of the country to the other on a regular basis just so they can boil an egg for their parents supper and help them with getting dressed or something.

  • Comment number 94.

    Our parents gave us life. Our response ought to be profound gratitude.

  • Comment number 95.

    53. At 6:30pm on 06 Jan 2011, mildenhalljohn wrote:

    Since I am already forced to pay (through taxation) for the support of bone idle 20yr old unmarried mothers, their half dozen sprogs by half a dozen different partners, their current live in, I am now told that elderly parents are my reponsibility. As for the good example of China, do they not have a despicable repution for abandoning baby girls?

    You seem to be a caring fellow. Taxation is enforced on everyone in employment, blame the government for wasting tax money, try a stint on the dole and you'll soon realize its not all roses so don't believe the media and government hype, they'd still take your dough even if we had full employment throughout the country.

    Your second point just shows what a self centred berk you are, they are your parents, not anybody elses so why should our taxes pay for their care and why you wouldn't care for the people who brought such a lovely chap into existence is quite beyond me. Anyway I'm off to the pub to spend my giro and see one of those birds you mentioned.

  • Comment number 96.

    I was not 'the norm' I was born with pneumonia and spent most of my younger life living through every type of serious illness going and by the time I left college I had no spent one full year in education without being in hospital and since then hae had periods of long illness between times of reasonable health but due to a heart and kidney defect never fully healthy. However although I am not an only one when my mother suffered several strokes and eventually came out of hospital and went into a home I visited here 3 times a day every day even though I was running a business but the result was that I was too exhausted to give my husband and son the attention they both required and deserved. No matter how hard we try somebody is always the loser including the carer. None of us can prepare ourselves for what is to come but if we should be allowed to state in a Will whether we wish to live should we become deeply affected by dementia or some other debilitating illness. There is constant controversy about the cost of caring for those with dementia yet most of them would have made sure that was not the case if they had been able. I have lived with as much dignity as I could and I wish to die the same way and not be a drain on anybody physically or monetarily. If this Island is not to sink under the load of people this must come so why delay peoples choice - also why still allow people to buy land for burial it is an utter waste. The bible says as we were so shall we become and we came from nowhere.

  • Comment number 97.

    In todays chav culture many people don't even know who their parents are. I was watching Chav TV the other day and some bloke had 9 (or 10) kids (couldn't quite be sure), didn't work due to "depression", and begrudginly was forced to pay £5 a week from his dole toward the upkeep of the whole lot of them. The rest of his state handouts he openly admitted to spending on drink. I doubt his kids will all be clubbing together to help papa in his old age - even if they do manage to work out who he was.

  • Comment number 98.

    The only thing is if a person is growing up in a loving family. His/her parents are both with good parenting skills, no matter if it is both parents or single parent family. I cannot see why this person isn't willing to look after his/her parents in the future.
    If a person has to be forced to look after his/her elderly parents. There will be plently tragic news on our headlines.
    We don't need the law but education.
    Looking after your parents are all about your 'heart', your love, it is not always means money. We have NHS to look after us for free, all you need to do is bring your parents to see doctors when they are unwell, visit them when they are in hosiptal. etc etc. However, it is very sad to hear somebody who left elderly parent rotting at hospital/ carehome.
    I think, for many elderly people, if their kids can visit them regularly, get together at every Christmas. They wouldn't have any complains. However, the family value is so low in today UK. It is a broken Britain, people are only interested at themselves, greed, nevermind respects. Many people believe the government has responsibility to support their offsprings, then years later, to support elderly parents. It is totally wrong. Everybody should contribute
    toward it, not only financially but also emotionally, that is your love.
    Not only by saying 'I love you mum/dad'.

  • Comment number 99.

    How do you make people care about each other you ask? You do everything in your ability to raise happy, successful, stress free children by supporting their early school life and later through college trade, technical or university. By giving them the best education and values your society can provide and not allowing anyone or any corporation to prey on them. Children should be treated with love, kindness and consistency, National Treasure's, then you would ensure that they would take care of the aging population. We treat the crown jewels better than we treat some children. This is criminal. Children deserve the best life we can offer them.

  • Comment number 100.

    China may be regarded as mad and bad in some respects but they do seem to have more of an eye on the long view than we sometimes give their government credit for. I think we can only applaud their leadership for their efforts at secular humanity, this is cheerful news from a powerful culture we do not understand but can still find empathy with in some respects.


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