China Has Found A New Way To Take Care Of Its Ageing Population: Robots

China is facing a crisis with an aging population and insufficient caregivers to take care of them. To address this issue, China is turning to robots, as reported by Sixth Tone. The country’s policies state that there should be one care worker for every four senior care facility residents.

However, there are currently only 320,000 caregivers available for the 8.1 million residents, leaving a shortage of over 1.7 million caregivers.

“As the number of elderly grows but care resources don’t keep up, smart machines are needed to reduce people’s workload,” Gao Hongjun, the director of a senior care center in downtown Shanghai, told the news outlet.

“Otherwise, everyone will get tired and be unable to take care of the elderly well.”

Although there are more than 100 Chinese robotics startups specializing in rehabilitation, companionship, and nursing robots, most of them have not reached mass production yet. This is partly because local authorities are not providing sufficient funding to implement robots in nursing homes on a large scale.

Furthermore, nursing homes themselves struggle to afford many robots due to their limited profitability. For instance, Sunshine Nursing Home, a private care facility in the eastern Anhui province, whose co-founder, surnamed Dong, faces this challenge.

“If we invest money in smart devices, our prices will go up and fewer people will come in,” told Sixth Tone Dong.

However, there is still hope as analysts have high expectations for China’s smart healthcare industry in the long term. A research firm in Guangdong province predicts that the market will experience significant growth over the next decade, surpassing its 2021 size by more than three times by 2027.

Gu Jie, the CEO of Shanghai Fourier Intelligence, a robotics company specializing in rehabilitation devices, agrees with the report’s estimates, suggesting a positive outlook for the industry.

“No matter where the elderly live, they all hope their limbs can be flexible and their mental state improved,” told Sixth Tone Jie.

“And after purchasing the devices, multiple people can use them, which greatly improves efficiency. This is exactly what AI is about.”

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