About five lakh elderly people, a majority of them women, go missing every year in China due to inadequate medicare and migration of their children to cities, according to a survey released today.
The survey released by the Zhongmin Social Assistance Institute and a leading news platform Toutiao said, 1,370 senior citizens go missing every day with an average age of 76.
Women account for 58 per cent of the total, it said.
The survey noted that many of the missing suffer from mental illness, with 72 per cent suffering from some form of memory impairment and 25 per cent diagnosed with dementia, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the survey, many cases are related to poverty and the inadequate care provided by family members as they migrate to large cities in search of higher wages.
The survey calls for the establishment of a national network to record and find missing people, and recommends that aid centres arrange specialist personnel to look for missing persons.
It also suggests that local governments in areas with large population outflows cooperate with social groups to assess the living conditions of seniors citizens left at home, and explore effective methods to prevent such citizens from going missing.
China has been facing major demographic crisis due to massive increase in aged people due to three decades old one child policy.
A senior Chinese official said early this month that China will have 240 million people aged 60 or above by 2020 from the present 220 million, putting heavy strain on health care system and steady reduction of labour force.
By 2020, senior citizens will make up 17 per cent of the population with about 240 million, Liu Qian, deputy head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission was quoted by the official media as saying.
Chinese capital is already feeling the heat with number of pensioners climbing up to 23.4 per cent of about 22 million population.
In order to address the long-term impact of the population, the Chinese government this year scrapped the one child policy and permitted people to have second child.