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Tibetan senior citizens reap rewards of development
China Daily Global 2019-06-18 16:39:33

More residents are warming to the idea of advanced eldercare services, official says

It is a cool, late afternoon in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, and Tsering Chodron is enjoying a cup of yak butter tea with friends under a tree in the garden.

Tsering Chodron, 81, smiles as she watches a group of fellow Tibetans dancing in a circle to traditional music. She used to join them before. While she has slowed down because of her age, she still follows the music and their movements.

Elderly Tibetan women spin prayer wheels near Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region, on Thursday.Wang Jing / China Daily

"It's just as fun to watch. Life here is very comfortable," Tsering Chodron said during a visit by participants of an international forum on the region's development last week.

Tsering Chodron is one of the 50 residents of a leading eldercare center in the regional capital's Chengguan district. The facility, under the district's civil affairs bureau, began operating in 2011 with an investment of $4.28 million in state-of-the-art eldercare amenities like health monitoring equipment and recreational areas for ethnic Tibetans as part of major social services measures, according to figures from the regional government.

Tsering Chodron moved to the facility seven years ago because she has no children and making meals proved especially difficult at her age.

"There is good food, like tsampa (roasted highland barley flour), eggs and milk for breakfast, and five dishes just for lunch. There's even noodles for supper," Tsering Chodron said, adding that she particularly appreciates help from the center's staff in washing her laundry and keeping her room tidy.

Dawa Drolkar, who is from the local government and helps monitor the condition of the residents, said the center's capacity has grown to 112 beds and more Tibetans are warming to the idea of advanced eldercare.

"Traditionally, Tibetans were more used to being taken care of by their family members. But you can see that we also provide for them very well here," Dawa Drolkar said.

There are 28 full-time staff at the center, offering round-the-clock care in the compound covering more than 5,000 square meters, of which more than half are green spaces. The three-story facility is not far from the National Highway 318, tapping the convenience of major transport, logistics and other infrastructure developments.

The easy access also makes it more convenient for elderly residents to go for medical checkups every six months, while an in-house clinic helps provide the comfort and care of modern and traditional medicine, all in line with the latest standards, Dawa Drolkar said.

The same adherence to high healthcare standards is seen at a leading Tibetan hospital nearby, which includes a major institute of Tibetan traditional medicine, the only one of its kind focusing on ethnic treatments.

Pema, the director of the hepatology department and assistant head of the hospital, said the successes of the traditional treatments, for example in the use of moxibustion - a therapy that involves burning dried mugwort on points of the body - to manage liver ailments, has continued to draw much interest from home and abroad in recent years.

The hospital complex covers an area of about 100,000 square meters and boasts more than 60 Tibetan medicine professionals, including national-level doctors and professors, all drawing on the latest treatments via modern research laboratories and medicinal production equipment. They are complemented by traditional stores of knowledge such as 81 seminal thangka paintings - paintings on cotton or silk, usually depicting a Buddhist deity or scene - mapping out the human body and its functions.

"We have been recording significant advances in Tibetan medicinal treatments. We have thousands of years of medical heritage and many worldwide are studying its benefits," Pema said.

Traditional Tibetan medicine adopts comprehensive diagnoses and treatments, including urinalysis, and dietary and herbal remedies. With the opening-up of the region, such as more exchanges and interactions with Eastern and Western medicine, the use and study of ethnic Tibetan healthcare will certainly improve, Pema said.

"Tibetan medicine continues to be very effective in the local community. As we become more connected with others, the rest of the world will increasingly come to realize how we can contribute to the medical community," she said.

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