Across China: Customized services warm elderly in Xinjiang



An elderly takes a rest in the ancient city of Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, June 12, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhao Ge)

**A customized calling device helped elderly people in Xinjiang to solve their life difficulties during the epidemic. **

URUMQI, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- With just the press of a button, Zhu Qiaoling, an 82-year-old resident in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, can get all her daily necessities delivered without ever leaving the comfort of her home.

With a customized calling device, 16 elderly residents who live alone at the Hami West Road community in the city are taken good care of by local community workers and volunteers.

"The device offers a variety of functions such as contacting community workers to arrange deliveries and calling the police. They only need to press a button," said Zhang Chunhua, a volunteer. Zhang also helps the elderly dispose of their household garbage and delivers daily necessities regularly.

By Saturday, Xinjiang had 625 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 123 asymptomatic cases, the majority in Urumqi, and 18,882 people were still under medical observation. The epidemic has forced roughly 4 million residents in the city to reduce their outdoor activities and has greatly disrupted everyday life, with the elderly suffering more than most.

"I'm in poor health and my son and daughter aren't around," said Zhu. "I'm old and can't use a smartphone. If anything were to happen to me, I have no way of contacting them."

A total of 165 volunteers, together with community workers, are responsible for delivering daily necessities and performing other jobs to meet the basic needs of the residents in the community.

"During the epidemic, the elderly cannot go out to buy medicine and food like before," said Chen Qiang, a community worker. "They also need psychological care."

Working with the Xinjiang branch of China Telecom, one of the country's largest telecom operators, the community installed the calling devices for elderly residents on Aug. 2 with community workers and volunteers on call 24 hours a day.

"The devices have improved our work efficiency, and we plan to install them for the disabled, pregnant women and other groups in need," Chen said.

Zhou Guoshi, deputy director of the city's civil affairs bureau, said Urumqi has been stepping up efforts to assist the elderly, disabled children and other groups in need through measures including temporary subsidies.

"The civil affairs department has granted more than 12 million yuan (about 1.7 million U.S. dollars) of subsidies for the elderly in the third quarter of this year," Zhou said.

"I don't feel lonely anymore because so many people are helping me with the device," Zhu said.