After two birth peaks and the “one child per family” policy, China is facing unprecedented challenges with regard to its aging population. This article analyzes the problems associated with three traditional ways of caring for older Chinese, the current health care system, and social supports available to older Chinese. The “4-2-1” family structure and the “empty nest” undermine family support, the prevalence of chronic illnesses and lack of money reduce older adults’ selfcare abilities, and insufficient care facilities threaten social support. Lessons learned from the United States show that community-based nursing models, nursing curriculum reforms with a gerontology focus, and reformed health care systems are pivotal for addressing China's crisis.
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