Being old in China

I've been to this local park a couple of times in the last few days, and from my observations of Chinese people and their culture, I've gotta say: being old in China is a pretty sweet gig.

Growing up in America, you kind of begin viewing the elderly as antiques. You get to thinking that they belong on a shelf somewhere to be kept out of harm's way. It's a common rationale, but life for them is admittedly pretty bland, spending time in front of the TV or crossword puzzles or sitting in an old folks home watching others quickly decay around them. From what I've read and observed, this kind of sedentary lifestyle can trigger or accelerate disorders like Alzheimer's and dementia, and this is on top of the obvious physical atrophy.

But life for the elderly here in China is a world apart. I'm constantly amazed at both the mental and physical abilities of the locals in their 70's and 80's (and maybe older). There's a game they play here that is the equivalent of hacky sack in the US, and I kid you not, the participants are often old enough to be my great-grandparents. Some of the moves these people pull off rival even my 7-th grade self in my hacky sack heyday. It's ridiculous!

And aside from the physical exercise (which also includes a lot of dancing, jogging, and stretching), they just know how to have a good time. I'm not gonna lie; sometimes I feel a little jealous! Today at the park there were about 4 or 5 different groups of old folks sitting around singing Beijing opera at the top of their lungs and laughing and applauding themselves between songs. I found myself wishing that the elderly back in the US were able to experience this, spending the last of their years with friends in a park, singing, playing games, breathing fresh air and just enjoying life.

How miserable would it be to spend your last months or years in a stale hospital setting watching everyone die around you?

posted by Mr. Linty @ 10:19 AM,

6 Comments:

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Vincent said...

This is exactly why the 9-5 is overrated. The American dream is basically school, work, retirement, boredom, decay. In that order.

It's a sad state.

I really want to go to China now. I got my passport in the mail the other day. Hmm.

 
At 4:15 AM, Blogger Loren said...

Eric,

You continue to make China sound better and better. I'm glad you're enjoying yourself and seeing a whole new part of the world. I hope to be able to do the same someday soon!

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Eric Terry said...

Vince,

Visit!

Loren,

Yeah, it's really been an eye opening experience, and each day as my language skills improve I'm getting to understand the people more, which has been an experience in itself. Really awesome.

 
At 2:01 AM, Anonymous NathanBW said...

Sounds like they really got it right. You gotta keep enjoying life your whole life. That's just inspiring!

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger dave terry said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:14 PM, Blogger dave terry said...

Well said.

 

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