Untold feelings of Chinese Gen Y: The single generation “carries father and mother” because of the age crisis but cannot complain or share

No one expected that one day, this generation would have to take care of both mother and elderly father alone.

Untold feelings of Chinese Gen Y: The single generation carries their father and mother alone because of an age crisis that cannot be blamed or shared - Photo 1.

The biggest fear of Chinese Millennials is that their parents suddenly fall ill

“I never thought my parents would depend on me”

China’s population is aging rapidly. According to government estimates, by 2050, one-third of the total population (about 500 million people) will be 60 years old or older.

Chinese culture and lifestyle respects filial piety, children have the obligation to take care of their parents and grandparents. The ancient Chinese had a longing for children and grandchildren. Before the 1970s, most Chinese families had many children. Beginning in the late 1970s, China implemented population planning, allowing only one child per couple. This policy lasted until 2015, inevitably leading to Millennials (Gen Y: 1981 – 1996) being “only children”.

Untold feelings of Chinese Gen Y: The single generation carries their father and mother alone because of the age crisis but cannot complain or share - Photo 2.

The elderly in China have increased rapidly over the years

As an only child, a true grandchild, of course the Chinese Gen Ys are pampered and loved to the fullest. From grandparents to parents, everyone considers them as “little emperors” who are monogamous. “I never imagined that one day, I would become a person who has to take care of both parents,” – Shen Feifei (32 years old) was shocked.

Two years ago, Shen’s parents were diagnosed with cancer. “They need me to take them to the hospital, see the doctor, decide on a treatment plan, give them some consolation… even take them to visit cemeteries,” Shen said. Because of spending too much time with his parents, Shen was constantly late for work and was fired twice. She is also married, so she has to take care of her husband and children. The pressure weighed heavily on Shen’s shoulders, causing her to become overwhelmed with stress, insomnia, and gray hair.

And yet, Shen also faced financial difficulties. She had to sell an apartment in Shanghai for 4 million yuan (about 14 billion dong), to cover the cost of cancer treatment for her parents.

Can’t share with anyone or rely on

In addition to their parents, Chinese Millennials also have to take care of their grandparents. This is not only filial piety, but also the law. According to Chinese regulations, adult children and grandchildren are responsible for supporting the economy and taking care of the spiritual life of their parents and grandparents.

Untold feelings of Chinese Gen Y: The single generation carries their father and mother alone because of an age crisis that cannot be blamed or shared - Photo 3.

In addition to parents, Chinese Gen Y also has to take care of grandparents

“If someone thinks they can rely on social security or a nursing home, that’s naive.” – Yi Fuxian, China demographic expert stated. Although the Chinese authorities have increased investment, building elderly care facilities; but it’s only recently, and it’s unlikely to catch up with the pace of population aging.

Take Shanghai, for example, where the government promises to provide 175,000 more beds in nursing homes by 2022. Meanwhile, the number of elderly people of this city is the 5.8 million people. Gen Ys are forced to choose nursing homes or private retirement apartments, but the rent is as high as 20,000 yuan/month (about 71 million VND), twice the average monthly income.

Untold feelings of Chinese Gen Y: The single generation carries their father and mother alone because of an age crisis that cannot be blamed or shared - Photo 4.

The cost of accommodation and care for the elderly in Chinese private nursing homes is up to 20,000 yuan/month (about 71 million VND).

China has a public policy that supports the care of the elderly, but it is limited to those who have lost self-control. Since Shen’s parents are not in this category, she cannot apply for nursing or home care services. In the end, Shen had to move closer to his parents’ house and hire a maid.

“My mother hates it, arbitrarily firing many maids,” Shen said. “She frankly said that she just wanted to be served by me and emphasized that it was my responsibility. Every day, she called me dozens of times. No matter what reason I was slow to answer, she got angry.”

Permanent insecurity

At the end of 2019, the social networking site Douban in China appeared a group “Exchange exclusively for those with retired parents”. Immediately, this group attracted 72,000 participants. Most of the members are Millennials and share a common concern “what to do if parents have health problems”.

“In the middle of the night, thinking about my parents being sick, begging me to help, I broke down in tears,” – a member living abroad wrote a confidant line. “I feel so helpless after my father’s car accident,” another joined. “I have always lived under the protection of my parents. If something happened to my father… I was so scared that I didn’t dare to think about it.”

Untold feelings of Chinese Gen Y: The single generation carries their father and mother alone because of an age crisis that cannot be blamed or shared - Photo 5.

Many Chinese Gen Ys do not dare to leave home because they are too worried about their parents

If in recent decades, young Chinese people have flocked to the city or abroad to set up a business, now more and more people give up their dreams. They are reluctant and feel obliged to stay at home. Leona Cheng (38 years old) has moved with her husband from Shanghai to Taiwan since 2012, but is always anxious because her father is still staying and getting old and weak. “In the past, I found being an only child very happy, but now, it becomes a burden. If only I had brothers and sisters, I wouldn’t have to be overwhelmed like now.”

Wen Wen (32 years old) does not have to worry about the health of his parents, but is afraid if something bad happens to him. She decided to buy a package of high-end personal insurance, which costs 30,000 yuan/year (about 106 million VND), hoping it will provide financial security for her elderly parents in case she has an accident, has a serious illness or dead.

Refer to Sixthtone

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