Gen Zers Run China’s Most Fashionable Nursing Home

Gen Zers Run China’s Most Fashionable Nursing Home

Young adults are getting more involved in tackling one of China’s most pressing issues: the country’s rapidly aging population

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Beatrice Tamagno Headshot
6:33 PM HKT, Mon November 14, 2022 1 mins read

Aging can look very different in different parts of the world. In China, for instance, many older citizens are known for their athleticism. They can often be seen exercising in public parks and swimming outdoors, even during Beijing’s frigid winter.

However, not all older people in China are sporty and self-sufficient. The country is home to one of the fastest-aging populations in the world. According to government data, there were more than 264 million Chinese citizens above the age of 60 in 2021, and that number is estimated to grow to a staggering 402 million by 2040.

To adapt to this massive demographic shift, universities around China have introduced gerontology majors, also known as ‘aging studies.’

Furthermore, it’s heartening to see many Chinese youths becoming more involved in caring for the country’s retirees than ever before.

china ageing population

An especially heartwarming example of this trend occurs in a nursing home in Ya’an, Sichuan province. Founded by Janet and June, two friends in their 20s, in 2018, the establishment is now home to 128 older people and has earned the nickname ‘Happy Nursing Home.’

In an interview with Chinese digital media outlet Yi Tiao, the founders said that their unusual career choice was driven by very personal reasons.

“Because of our own family members, we visited many nursing homes and felt that getting old was really scary,” they said. “Elders were crammed into dark rooms, and the nurses would treat them like objects.”

To avoid older adults experiencing feelings of being abandoned and marginalized, Janet and June built a place where they would feel safe and happy.

china ageing population senior fashion

Most of the staff at the nursing home are either Gen Zers or Millennials. Besides caring for the older residents’ health needs, they nurture their minds and souls by organizing fun daily activities that transcend generational boundaries.

In addition to playing Chinese chess, singing, and watching TV with the residents, the staff often throw playful — and arguably Vogue-worthy — fashion shoots.

china ageing population

After the video interview with Yi Tiao was published on Bilibili, China’s version of YouTube, it racked up almost 500,000 views and a storm of positive comments.

Wholesome content related to older people has long been popular on Chinese social media platforms. Take, for instance, the viral Douyin trend of reproducing luxury brand campaigns featuring rural seniors as models.

All images via Bilibili

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