Legislating morality remains as popular as ever, including here in China where lawmakers recently amended a law allowing elderly parents to sue their adult children for not "visiting them often enough."
This well-meaning law appears to be a reaction to recent media reports of the gross neglect of elderly parents by their children, including a notorious case in Jiangsu in which a 90-year-old was forced to live in a pigsty by her son.
But AP points out that the law lacks specifics (as is often the case for domestic policy) – namely, how many times one should visit their parents to avoid getting sued.
Ham-handed as this law may seem, the motivation behind its introduction is certainly understandable and neglecting the elderly certainly isn’t a China-only phenomenon (and neither is suing your family members).
Nevertheless China’s frenetic pace of social change has created an ever-increasing vacuum when it comes to care for the elderly. The construction of new nursing homes, including a RMB 200 million 460-bed facility in Beijing, has subsequently skyrocketed with fees following suit.
Take the new Landgent Nursing Home in Shuangjing, for instance: According to my mother-in-law (who recently inquired on a lark*), the facility was asking for a RMB 600,000 deposit on top of its RMB 10,000 monthly fee. No word yet on whether this pricing structure has changed as no one seems to be answering the phone today.
Paying a premium for high quality goods and services is completely understandable, as is the common medical necessity of choosing to place a loved-one in a nursing home. But the "aspirational" pricing of the Shuangjing facility (and no doubt many others around the country) is questionable at best. It will be interesting to see how quickly (or not) the facility fills up.
*For the record, we would never, ever consider placing her in a nursing home. My wife was irked that her mother would even make such a call.