CHANGSHA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — Zhu Yuanliang, an 82-year-old citizen in central China’s Changsha, is even busier now that he has retired.
He takes part in at least three social activities a week, deals with the latest digital gadgets, and has filmed nearly 5,000 videos for the elderly — many of them friends he just met.
“Tired, it’s true. But I’m also happy,” he said.
As a loyal reader of “The Happy Elderly” for over 10 years, Zhu has become difficult to separate from the newspaper, as he has found unexpected joy and a sense of belonging through the platform.
“The newspaper has been using my articles since the first issue,” he said, proudly.
After Zhu retired in 1997, he began to write. He even used a steel pen to cut characters on steel plates and self-printed a collection of stories on oiled paper for his friends and relatives.
“I was addicted to playing cards right after retirement. But my wife wasn’t so happy. So I thought why not write a book as a gift for myself,” he said.
In 2003, Zhu bought himself his first computer and tried to learn how to type Chinese. But he kept forgetting the input method for each character. Typing usually takes him twice as long as writing, but it doesn’t affect his passion for words.
The Happy Elderly was founded in 2009, and kept breaking circulation records despite the general decline in print media. Its highest yearly circulation topped 2.3 million, making it one of the most widely subscribed newspapers in China.
“It’s because we have a deep understanding of our readership,” said Zhao Baoquan, the publisher. He said the majority of content is focused on life and health tips, up-to-date information and local event notifications.
“We have also used many pages as a platform for our readers to present their works, in a way to boost interaction while catering to senior people’s strong desire to participate,” Zhao added.
Interestingly, the newspaper that draws so many senior readers together is largely edited by the post-1990s generation. Zhao said their editorial stance is to let young editors pass on their values and lifestyle to the elderly.
As a fan of literature, Zhu has been submitting pieces to the newspaper for years. Gradually, he became an integral member of several of the paper’s columns, recruiting participants for meet-and-greets, filming onsite videos and publishing them online.
To better execute this task, he learned how to use video editing software, and social networking software such as WeChat and Tik Tok.
“I often recorded three or four such activities a day, resulting in a dozen or more videos,” he said. “I now call myself a new-age newspaperman, by using a video camera instead of a pen.”
In 2017, the newspaper established a comprehensive service platform called “Happy Elderly College,” and the number of “campuses” has swiftly climbed to nearly 100 in and out of Hunan. Zhu’s campus is only four minutes away from his home.
Besides taking classes, seniors can visit the campuses to make friends, seek legal consultations and play cards and chess.
China had a senior population — those above 60 — of nearly 250 million by the end of 2018. The elderly-care industry is booming, with over 160,000 nursing institutions and facilities for the aged already operational across the country.
The aged population, with higher pensions and more choices in life, is also undergoing a tremendous change in both thought and lifestyle.
“I have to keep learning and stay busy. Hobbies and pursuits keep me healthy,” Zhu said.
LINK ORIGINAL: Xinhuanet