"Old drifters", how to solve the dual dilemma of wandering mind and body

  Editor's note

  "The most beautiful sunset is red, warm and calm..." It is predicted that during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period, my country's elderly population will exceed 300 million, and the elderly have become the focus of social attention.

The elderly are generally considered to be a group with low mobility. However, as the process of urbanization and aging is accelerating, China has a growing urban elderly floating population that deserves attention: In order to support the careers of their children and take care of their grandchildren, they are like "Migratory birds" leave their hometown and "float" to unfamiliar big cities, facing problems such as language barriers, cultural differences, separation between the two places, and medical insurance in different places.

According to the "China's Migrant Population Development Report 2018" released by relevant departments, the data of China's elderly floating population shows a continuous growth trend compared with nearly 18 million in 2016 (of which 43% are dedicated to caring for the younger generation).

With the flow of children, the accompaniment of the elderly who are in "double wandering" with their bodies and minds constitute a representative picture of today's aging China, and they are called "old drifters".

In this regard, Guangming Investigation recently launched an online survey on the "old drifters" from the perspective of intergenerational support on the Guangming Daily Weibo. At the same time, reporters learned about the life status of this group through field observations and in-depth interviews. In this issue, let us walk into such a group and listen to their voices.

  "Ninety percent of the children in our community are brought by the elderly. The elderly are also responsible for cooking, cleaning the house, washing and buying vegetables." "I don't have a friend who can chat with children here, and they don't even know each other." My wife and children stay at home alone, and they can’t eat a hot bite of food.” “I can’t enjoy medical insurance in other places, and I don’t need a health insurance card to buy medicine at many pharmacies.” “I’ve just been here for two months and I’m not familiar with the place. Now I am The organizers of the community square dance. They all love to chat with me, saying that they feel younger with me too!"...

  The survey found that “drifting” is no longer a label for young people. What are the characteristics of the migrants who have left their hometowns to support their children's career and take care of the third generation, and come to cities where their children work?

What kind of confusion are you facing?

What is the underlying reason behind this?

How can we help them achieve social integration when they move into the city?

  1. The children of the "old drifters" group portraits are going outside tomorrow, and tomorrow they will move with their children to "drift" their old age

  "Wake up at 6 in the morning to cook. After dinner, my husband sends my boss to school. I send my second child to kindergarten. On the way back, I buy a la carte, clean the house in the morning, wash and rinse after lunch, and then prepare the ingredients for dinner. Less than 3 in the afternoon. The wife and son will leave to pick up the boss, and the son and daughter-in-law will get off work late and send him to various cram schools such as English and painting after school. When the epidemic is at home, he will also urge the boss of elementary school to go online and check in homework every day." Yang Chunling (pseudonym) from Shanxi and her wife face the complicated work in Beijing every day.

  The life of the elderly Yang Chunling has become the epitome of the lives of many elderly migrants in big cities.

According to the 2018 Urban Statistical Yearbook data, the elderly floating population in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Xi'an accounted for an average of 12.8% of the total floating population, and the trend is increasing year by year.

  The survey found that in terms of the family characteristics of the elderly with migrants, most of the grandchildren being taken care of are younger.

According to a study sample of elderly accompanying migrants from the perspective of intergenerational support by Professor Mei Lin of the School of Geographical Sciences of Northeast Normal University, most grandchildren are in elementary school or not enrolled, and the proportion of those at elementary school and below is 80.5%.

  The direction of the migration of elderly people is basically the same as that of China's population flow and urbanization process.

The inflow areas are mainly large cities where various resources are concentrated, and the outflow areas are distributed in small and medium cities and rural areas.

  With regard to the social needs of the elders who move with them, because they are in a mobile life state, their social needs in terms of emotional support, companion support, and information support are higher than those of the non-moving elders.

Professor Zhuang Xi of the School of Journalism and Communication of Nanjing Normal University pointed out in the research report "Internet Social Support for New Urban Immigrants under the Background of New Urbanization" that a survey of elderly people living in cities over 60 in some regions of Jiangsu showed that the information about the elderly Support demand accounted for the highest proportion, reaching 61.1%; emotional support demand and companion support demand accounted for a relatively high proportion of 45%.

  In terms of the social integration of the elderly with migrants, the "square dance" WeChat group has become the entrance for the old drifters to establish new relationships in the places where they flowed.

Wang Yan, a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Communication of Sichuan International Studies University, who has long been engaged in research on the issue of old age, said that the square dance is an important way for the contemporary elderly to resolve loneliness, seek identification, and rebuild communication.

After the rise of WeChat and the popularity of the elderly, the existing square dance community in the real space became networked. Through the WeChat group, it was quickly maintained, deepened and extended in the cyberspace, forming a space for interaction and communication where they flowed.

  During the investigation, the reporter deeply felt that the elderly who moved with them often took family interests as the starting point for their residence decision. On the one hand, they were willing, on the other hand, they had no alternative. The dilemma behind their own needs was often ignored by the family and society.

  2. The "pain" of moving with you, social difficulties, high consumption, difficulty in scanning codes, and intergenerational conflicts

  Social difficulties

  Two years ago, Zhang Chengwen and his wife went from Zaozhuang, Shandong Province to Jinan to help bring their grandson. For him, although he came to Jinan, he "enjoyed the happiness in the family circle", but "looking at the larger circle, I feel He has alienated his relatives and friends, and closed himself up." No one communicates, no friends, no people to the door... When it comes to going out to try to socialize, he is even more miserable.

"It is very difficult to re-establish a circle of friends at our age, and there is no extra time. We have to look after children all day and we have no time for ourselves."

  The geographical span from south to north makes it difficult for Aunt Deng from Wushan, Chongqing to take a child in Beijing.

"My Chongqing dialect is not understood by others, and it is not convenient to go out and ask for directions."

  Leaving the homeland where they lived for decades, the "old drifters" are often prone to problems of inadaptability and unsuitable living environment.

  Generational divide

  "No matter how hard or tired it is to bring a child, I can bear it, but I can't bear the anger." According to Sun Fang (pseudonym), the days of bringing a baby are not comfortable.

This super teacher from Shanxi came to Beijing from his hometown in early 2019 to help take care of his children. Not only did he take care of all the housework, he also cooked delicious meals in different ways. He was "tired every day with backaches", but often couldn't get the children. The concern of people, sometimes they have to face the "negative emotions" they bring back from work.

"You don't know what child you want. She has almost all of her energy projected on her child, but we all know what she wants as parents."

  Not only that, "I wear more clothes or I wear less", "Is it a physical cooling or taking medicine if I have a fever"... The difference in parenting concepts has also become a major contradiction between the "old drifters" and their children.

  Husband and wife separation

  It is reasonable to say that three generations living together should be a happy one, but the survey found that this is not the case. Many elderly people endure the loneliness of wandering in a foreign land, and some even live in two places with their spouses for many years.

  It is not uncommon among the "old drifters" that elderly couples are separated in different places.

Since coming to Beijing to take care of her pregnant daughter-in-law 4 years ago, Liu Fang (pseudonym) has lived a separated life with her wife who works in his hometown of Jiangxi.

His wife’s child suffers from high blood pressure, and Liu Fang, who is worried about his body, reminds him to take the medicine daily via video.

However, during Liu Fang's time in Beijing, his wife and children often eat and drink at will, and his physical condition is deteriorating.

After the Spring Festival in 2019, the sudden death of his wife and son due to physical reasons caused Liu Fang's spirit to suffer a great blow. He often hid in his room at night and shed tears.

  Shen Yifei, an associate professor at the School of Social Development and Public Policy of Fudan University, pointed out that when caring for infants and young children, due to the lack of a relevant social support system, dual-income families often need a member role to take care of the children and take care of the housework, and parents who work hard and resentful often play this role.

From a gender perspective, because women take on more housework, older women are more "desired" than men, which leads to the problem of separation of elderly people who move with them.

  Offsite medical insurance

  In their daily life, medical treatment in other places has always been a major problem that bothers them.

Zhou Weiguo (pseudonym), who has lived in Beijing for 7 years, is quite dissatisfied with this: “Unless you are hospitalized, you will have to pay for it yourself. After you are discharged from the hospital, you can only return to the local area to report it. However, there are local drug fees, bed fees, Outpatient fees cannot be reported, and only tens of percent can be reported after removing these."

  Since the medical insurance is in their hometown, the elderly who accompany the move often have to go through the complicated reimbursement process when they get sick, and they often face the problems of heavy burden of “advanced running errands” and long reimbursement cycle. In addition, the medical expenses in big cities are high, even after reimbursement. Spend a lot of money.

  Regarding the reimbursement of medical insurance in different places, in recent years, the government has begun to promote the pilot work of direct settlement of medical treatment in different places across provinces. 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the country have opened online filing on national platforms.

However, the direct settlement of medical treatment in different places has not yet spread across the country. For the elderly with migrants, "difficult medical treatment" and "expensive medical treatment" are still a major problem facing them.

  Consumption "upgrade"

  For some elderly migrants, due to household registration restrictions, they often cannot enjoy local preferential policies, and prices in big cities are much higher than those in their hometowns, and consumption in big cities makes them "daunt".

  “It’s really hard to have a small amount of money in the city. It’s tens of yuan for a casual breakfast. It used to be a few yuan in the village.” Before Zhang Chengwen came to Jinan, he and his wife ran a breakfast shop in Zaozhuang. With the children, they transferred the breakfast shop and went to Jinan with their family.

Lao Zhang, who has no economic income, cannot accept the high consumption in the city.

  Digital divide

  In 2018, Yang Weimin (pseudonym), who had difficulty living alone in his hometown, followed his wife and children to Beijing to take care of his grandchildren.

Uncle Yang doesn't know how to operate mobile phones, and he is very repulsive whenever he needs to scan codes.

"I use cash to buy things in the supermarket. They don't accept cash in many places, and they won't buy anything." He often stood on the top floor and watched birds, becoming a pastime for Yang Weimin, who could not use his smartphone.

  With the development of technology, old people often face the problem of "digital divide" when entering big cities. Smart phones can’t operate, WeChat payment can’t remember the steps, smart appliances can’t use... These "digital" life difficulties also cause The incompatibility of the "old drifters".

  3. Why is it "difficult" The multiple changes of society, family, and technology are intertwined

  From the acquaintance society of "village folks" to the unfamiliar environment of urban communities, the "old drifters" have become "invisible people in the community".

Wang Yan said that due to China’s territorial management, the constraints of the household registration system, and the strong cohesion of the native families, the roots of the “old drifters” are still in their hometowns, and their various social identities remain in their hometowns. They still need them after they move into the city. Between the outflow and inflow places.

At the same time, different from the migrant workers who yearn for city life, the "old drifters" who came to take care of their children have a deeper nostalgia for their hometown where they have lived for most of their lives.

Most of them come from "acquaintance societies" such as small cities, counties, and towns. After moving to cities, although they can be reunited with their families, the sudden cut-off of social contacts and the neighborhood relationships in urban commercial housing communities make them easy to feel lonely.

In addition, the "old drifters" are affected by factors such as age and knowledge level, and their adaptability to the new environment is relatively poor. Their daily lives are overwhelmed by their children, and the social network is disrupted, making them gradually marginalized and unfamiliar in public life. People.

  The change from "family authority" to "family participant" makes the "old drifters" prone to psychological gaps.

Li Ling, a professor at the National School of Development of Peking University, pointed out that since the implementation of the family planning policy in my country, the number of only children has increased, and many only children born in the 1980s have stayed in cities to work and get married after receiving education.

However, the acceleration of urbanization, the implementation of the comprehensive two-child policy, and the insufficient supply of infant care services have caused the young people’s life pressure to increase day by day. Faced with this situation, two generations choose to "hug together for warmth" and elderly parents choose to flow into their children. The city where the family is located continues to contribute in terms of economy and energy.

  "The great social changes in the past 40 years have also brought about a new type of family relationship. The family's material and spiritual life supply center has changed from grandparents to grandchildren (the so-called'family downwardism'). Love, care and family resources are all based on the above. Onwards." As outsiders to the nuclear family of their children, the "Lao Piao tribe" often face intergenerational conflicts. Shen Yifei believes that in the era of market economy, the old generation’s authority in the past has been weakened. For the “old drifters” who have entered the urban families of their children, the focus of intergenerational relations has shifted down to their children and grandchildren. They have undergone a transformation from “family authority” to “family bystander” and gradually become a thing If the marginalized family members who fall behind and are easily neglected cannot get the attention and attention of their children, it will cause serious psychological gaps among the elderly.

  Shen Yifei also emphasized that during cultural changes, differences in the life experiences, ideas, habits, and parenting concepts of parents and children between the two generations often tend to form conflicts on a narrow platform space, which also increases the The feeling of discomfort in the children's family.

  The transition from following the "traditional experience" to the "post-figurative age" has made the "old drifters" the lost in the information age.

Zhuang Xi emphasized that the popularization of digital information technology has broken the knowledge transfer method under the "pre-figurative culture" (the younger generation learns from the elders).

With the help of younger generations, many elderly people who moved with them have learned to chat on WeChat and send and receive red envelopes. However, from the current situation, cultural backfeeding is more effective at the level of technical contact, but it is more effective at the level of in-depth exchanges such as knowledge, information and cultural concepts. Lacking.

The survey found that the children’s family members did not interact much with the WeChat Moments of the elderly, and some children even blocked the elderly at home from the WeChat Moments.

  "The development and popularization of smart phones and mobile social media is of great significance for the marginalized elderly to be included in social network nodes, and it is also conducive to improving their adaptability in a modern society with high-speed mobility and continuous advancement of individualization." Wang Yan It is believed that for the "old drifters" who cannot use smart phones and mobile social media, this may further cause them to break away from social networks.

  4. Weave a dense social support network for the "Lao Piao tribe"

  To improve the social security system and broaden the coverage of welfare, it is necessary to increase the formal system support for the elderly accompanied by migration, and to increase investment in infant care services.

In general, the "old drifters" can enjoy certain old-age services and old-age security in the locality, but there are also difficulties in connecting policies in different places.

In this regard, it is necessary to further resolve the barriers between urban and rural household registration, continue to promote the equalization of public services and social welfare, and effectively allow the elderly with intergenerational support to enjoy preferential policies such as public transportation, public cultural services, and medical care. , To avoid insufficient supply of family care due to economic and physical reasons.

  In addition, Li Ling pointed out that after the implementation of the comprehensive two-child policy, the pressure on the elderly to take care of their grandchildren has doubled.

The 14th Five-Year Plan proposes to develop an inclusive childcare service system to reduce the cost of childbirth, parenting and education.

Further improving the supply of infant and child care services and developing infant and child care service institutions can also reduce the pressure on the elderly to bring up their children to a certain extent.

  Encourage the use of in-depth "cultural feedback" to bridge the "digital gap" and provide the necessary pavement for intergenerational support.

The development of communication technology has enabled the establishment of a sense of belonging across time and space, and has given new potentials for the reconnection of social relationships among migrants.

In the interview, Zhuang Xi emphasized that the construction and maintenance of social support within the family is the focus of social support for the elderly who move with them.

With the help of younger generations, many elderly accomplices have learned the functions of WeChat chat, sending and receiving red envelopes. These advancements have not only enriched the lives of the elderly, but also opened up new channels for their contact with the younger generation.

Family support is not only a sharing of new technologies for them, but also an emotional bond.

Therefore, the in-depth cultural backfeeding between generations and circles on the Internet platform should be an important direction to improve social support for the elderly who migrate with them.

  At the same time, Jin Jianbin, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University, believes that the community, as the most basic community, is the basic starting point for the development and promotion of ageing transformation and upgrading.

It is reported that by the end of the "14th Five-Year Plan", my country will build 5,000 exemplary urban and rural elderly-friendly communities. By encouraging communities to set up their own or cooperate with educational institutions, social organizations, etc., a series of "wisdom to help the elderly". Action to help the elderly bridge the “digital divide”.

  Attach importance to the support of the friends of the elderly who move with them, and build an online and offline interactive space for them.

Zhuang Xi said that due to factors such as space distance, it is difficult to achieve face-to-face gatherings between elderly migrants and their friends of the same generation in their hometown.

But "virtual spaces" such as WeChat groups can provide real-time "party" for the elderly, provide them with communication scenes full of "collective memories" and necessary emotional support.

However, "virtual space" cannot completely replace real life. Therefore, mutual support between the elderly group and peers depends on the simultaneous advancement of online and offline.

Urban communities should give full play to their strengths and organize the elderly with local elders in the form of social gatherings, outings, interest groups, etc., to help them develop new peer social networks and obtain more supportive resources.

  Strengthen intergenerational communication, clarify family rights, responsibilities and interests, help the elderly to establish a "positive outlook on ageing" and explore cooperative parenting.

Shen Yifei pointed out that Western parenting theories are not applicable to China in some aspects. Chinese culture includes cooperative parenting and familyism.

Therefore, it is necessary to explore the positive path of cooperative parenting. On the basis of learning to listen to each other’s voices, the responsibilities and rights of the elderly should be clarified. During the care process, the children should provide the elderly parents with sufficient financial, life and spiritual support. It is necessary to actively "feed back" the intergenerational support of elderly parents, fully understand the parents' willingness to provide for the elderly, and do their filial piety so that parents can spend their twilight years in peace.

  On the other hand, the elderly themselves should establish a "positive view of ageing", eliminate the "external feeling" and "temporary residence" that only temporarily help their children take care of their grandchildren, and make use of their rich life experience and experience advantages to become indispensable to their children's families An important member.

Let go of your sense of authority as a parent, make full use of your free time, understand and learn new knowledge, new skills, and new ideas, cultivate your hobbies, and enrich your spiritual world.

Actively participate in activities organized by the community and expand the social circle.

  (Our reporter Bai Xue Lei Lan Yani Our correspondent Zeng Yue Zhong Yi)