Satellite Towns Elderly Problem

Published on Author dickey

cartoon.12Satellite towns in Hong Kong have recently begun to face the problems of an aging population. The towns were built in the 1970s, and at the time the nation did not realize that in the future, the satellite towns would need to hold a much older population. Many of the housing opportunities are simply not suitable to the older population. Many of the high rises have stairs and the bathrooms have bathtubs, which are difficult and dangerous for the elderly population to use daily. The growth rate of elderly in towns like Tuen Mun, Tai Po, and Sha Tin will likely range from 34-41 percent compared to around 20 percent in other districts. Because the number of residents over 65 years old is expected to grow by more than a third over the next five years, towns like Tuen Mun, Tai Po, and Sha Tin must develop a way to overcome the ageing population.

However, the government has chosen to not address the problem completely. Only five out of the eleven sites that were determined to see new housing for the elderly were in the towns with the rapidly expanding elderly population.

Part of the reason why there is not policy set up for these towns yet is that there is still some necessary data missing from coming up with an effective strategy to combat the ageing population. The Labor and Welfare Bureau, Development Bureau, Education Bureau, and the Census and Statistics Department still need data about the economic background of the population that will turn 60 or 65 by 2018. In order for them to effectively design the new housing, they need to know what the people can afford. Once the government has more information about the needs of the population, hopefully they will work on the problem. They will need to decrease the reliance of stairs, put in more showers, and open up more elderly social services and day cares in the area.


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8 Responses to Satellite Towns Elderly Problem

  1. This is not unique to HK; the housing complexes built in Japan were 3-4 stories with no elevators. I’ve visited an eldercare facility there that has day programs, but not only needs to hire staff who can both drive vans and have the physical ability to carry people up and down multiple flights of stairs. I think there are overlaps as well with siting: housing developments were opportunistic in terms of available sites, where were not necessarily convenient to shopping and required buses to connect to trains / subways. At least in Japan it’s hard to impossible to rent apartments to new (and younger) tenants because they’re old and poorly located. So bus service is now less frequent … a viscious circle.

    In China proper the challenge will be farm villages where no young people remain, and the elderly don’t have the mobility to handle daily tasks. It is not yet a policy issue, but population aging plus outmigration from farms make it 100% predictable that it will become one, and on a huge scale.

  2. In the Hessler book, he describes one elderly man who climbed into the fruit trees and helped knock the fruit down during the harvest. No safety equipment was used and if he had fallen the nearest hospital was 2-3 hours away! Many work and living environment safety features we take for granted are not available in China. One thought I had when reading this is since local governments can figure out the price each resident would be able to pay for an apartment might they try and use some price differentiation models to increase their profits from building apartments?

  3. I’m a little confused by this concern, as so much of our semester’s studies have discussed how focused on tradition the Chinese population is. And, their tradition includes taking care of the elderly. As these are satellites and not major hubs, I’m surprised that the elderly are not more taken care of simply by their families. You would think the size of the housing complexes would not matter, as those would be simply where the younger people live.

  4. I feel that Hong Kong will be able to deal with these aging satellite villages by studying how other countries and cities have handled aging populations. Often times a lot of infrastructure is required to properly accommodate for the elderly. Before Hong Kong begins to make changes it will need to collect the proper data first.

  5. Urbanization is a mega trend in global which China is also included. People especially new generation trend to move into city increasing rapidly and make Satellite Towns has big amount of elderly people. Basic infrastructure is definitely a big problem if there is no any concrete plan preparing with this condition. As you mentioned, information from Census and Statistics Department is absolutely important to monitor and provide correct data to plan several critical things for future changes. Not only amount of aging population but also included several factors such as new born rate or even rating of happiness of population such as Happy Planet Index (HPI).

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