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Faces and places in an aging China

Snapshots in Time

Anita Bergen, Cameron Nicolle, Special to Canadian Mennonite
Oct 04, 2017 | Volume 21 Issue 19

This man is 102 years old. I couldn’t resist capturing his image as he gazed out a window. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

Like Canada, China is facing an aging population. There is a growing need for elder-care homes, as families shift away from the cultural norm of taking care of their aging loved ones. Churches have stepped in and have begun to build elder-care homes to address the need. These churches have reached out to faith communities in North America that have a long history of running nursing homes, to hear about their experiences.

In March of this year, my husband, Cameron Nicolle, and I were invited to spend four weeks in rural China providing training to church-based elder-care homes in five cities south of Shanghai, as part of a collaboration between the China Christian Council and Mennonite Partners in China.

With my 17 years working as a long-term-care nurse and my husband’s nine years as executive director of an agency serving people with intellectual disabilities, we were asked to make presentations on such topics as dementia, resident-directed care, board development, human resources and wound care. We were thrilled to learn that our sessions were attended by staff from more than 60 homes, and we have been encouraged by the knowledge that significant networking has taken place among staff from the various homes.  

Our time in China was remarkable. We will always remember the incredible hospitality, the warmth of the people and, of course, the amazing food!

To view a slide show of more photos, visit bit.ly/bergen-china-2017.

These residents in Taizhou meekly ask whether we have the time to take a picture with them. We were so honoured. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

A man out for a stroll along the river in Wenzhou. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

We were fascinated by the modes of transportation in China, many of which were electric, including this one in Taizhou. This vehicle has muffs over the handlebars to provide warmth on cold mornings. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

Women greet us from the window of an apartment near one of the elder-care homes. Note the laundry and an umbrella hanging in the background. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

An elder-care home near Shaoxing amid fields of tea. We learned that all teas—white, green and black—are made from the same plant. Who knew? (Photo by Anita Bergen)

This sanctuary near Wenzhou was one location for our training sessions. The pews have pop-up ledges for placing books or computers on in order to take notes. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

A butcher located in a nearby market where elder-care staff in Taizhou go daily to purchase meat and produce that will be used that day for meals. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

This resident of Taizhou enjoys her afternoon, swinging with her dog and singing at the top of her lungs. (Photo by Anita Bergen)

A country church near Wenzhou beside small canola fields and larger rice fields, complete with water buffalo. (Photo by Anita Bergen)


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