An elderly woman stretches her legs in her home in Shanxi. (Photo/Xinhua)
A new social group has silently emerged in China, termed the "elderly wanderers," or elder people who leave their hometown and move to cities to live with their children, sometimes taking care of their household.
Xinhua News Agency reported that Li Lixia, a woman from China's northeast, moved to Beijing two years ago, where she still attends to her granddaughter. Most family members in her hometown envy her life with her son and grandchildren. Li has however a second opinion about that.
Li's husband was re-employed in her hometown after he retired. The couple has never separated before, but only now, in their later years, do they find themselves pushed apart. Li worries about her husband when she is in Beijing, and is anxious about her son when she visits home.
Another elderly couple surnamed Cong from Shandong province is under a slightly different situation. The husband and the wife, now living in Beijing, do not need to be separated. But they dearly miss the place they used to live.
Mr. Cong said, "Being at this age, I should be enjoying life. But now I have to adjust myself to a new life. I can hardly be of help buying groceries, cooking, attending grandchildren. I have an accent when I speak, which makes it difficult for people to understand. So I dare not to be far from my house, and I only take a walk within the community."
Psychologists said that "elderly wanderer" syndrome is caused by psychological and spiritual loneliness. Parents, who used to rule their family, find their values challenged when living in their children's homes. Instead of enjoying life, they feel depressed, lonely and anxious, and in some cases even more lonely than if they lived by themselves, as their children seldom interact with them when they come home from work.