by Xinhua writer Li Huizi
BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Calls for visiting parents and the elderly during the upcoming Seniors' Day holiday have reverberated in Chinese media recently.
Seniors' Day, also known as the Double Ninth Festival, falls on Tuesday, the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival, which dates back more than 2,000 years, is traditionally an occasion for eating symbolic cakes and appreciating chrysanthemums.
In 1989, the Chinese government turned the day into Seniors' Day to promote filial respect. However, it is often neglected by people who are occupied with work and other obligations.
Many elderly Chinese have complained about their apathetic children. A China Central Television news program that aired on Sunday featured an interview with an 80-year-old woman who said that her children seldom visit her.
The program led some viewers to launch an online campaign encouraging more people to visit their parents during the holiday.
The graying of China's population has accelerated in recent years. The country had about 185 million people above the age of 60 as of the end of last year. The figure is expected to surge to 221 million in 2015, including 51 million "empty nesters," or elderly people whose children no longer live with them.
Some argue that younger people still want to visit their parents, but heavy work pressure and tight schedules have kept them at home. Spending time chatting with parents has become a luxury.
However, their excuses are flimsy at best. If they are too busy to visit, a phone call or a gift sent through the mail would probably suffice.
An aging society needs citizens with filial piety. The love shown by one's own children is irreplaceable. It can enrich elderly people's spiritual lives and dispel their loneliness.
A community-based elderly care system would suit the country's current situation and help support older people. Elderly people ought to be given more access to community-based psychological consultation services as well.
China should consider giving a day off for employees on Seniors' Day, giving them ample time to visit their parents. This would also show China's emphasis on traditional virtues and be in line with the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)'s call for promoting socialist culture.
Elderly people are society's treasure. Older generations have made great contribution to the country and their families, and their experience cannot be overvalued. More flexible policies should be adopted to handle China's aging society.