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For some, elder care centers may symbolize the epilogue of life. Yet at a center in Macao, many seniors are embracing new chapters of life"s second half.
Amid the guitar riffs of Michael Jackson"s Beat It, a group of seniors learned dance steps at the I Chon elder care center. They attentively moved with the rhythm. The moves are not too difficult and most of them stayed in step with the others. Minor mistakes were inevitable, but they quickly adjusted and refocused on their next move.
"Taking classes here makes time pass so quickly," said Lei U-peng, a retiree in her 60s. She goes to dance and swimming classes held at the center every week. For her, time spent at the center not only helps enrich retirement but also contributes to her health and expands her social network.
"Common interests are catalysts of friendship," Lei said. After becoming acquainted with people in her classes, she starts to meet them regularly after class and friendships bloom.
There also are many other activities at the elder care facility. The center, set up in 2007 by the General Union of Neighborhood Associations of Macao - one of the largest nonprofit social service organizations in the special administrative region - currently serves hundreds of people older than 45. It has an area of nearly 2,000 square meters on two floors, one for continuing education and one for healthcare services.
Chan Iok-keng, an 80-year-old resident, said she"d like to spend the rest of her life at the center to avoid loneliness. After a stroke this year, Chan must use a wheelchair most of the time. Since then, she said, life has become increasingly tedious.
Her daughter, too busy to take care of Chan, hired a Vietnamese worker to care for her, she said. But language differences left Chan unhappy with the arrangement and she started using the healthcare services at the center.
Since then, the hours between 9 am and 4 pm are the happiest of her day. At the center, Chan dines, chats and receives rehabilitation training with other elders. Together, they recall memories of the past and face the uncertainties of the future.
Chan is also happy with the professional services offered by the center"s medical workers. Elders also can take equipment home to continue their rehabilitation.
In 2009, then-vice-president Xi Jinping visited the center. In October, about 30 elder volunteers at the center jointly composed a letter to Xi, now the nation"s president, about Macao"s development since its return to the motherland, especially progress in care for the aged.
In a written reply, Xi greeted the elders and encouraged them to maintain their enthusiasm for serving the community.
Ma Tang, a volunteer who wrote the letter on behalf of the elders, said serving others gives her satisfaction. Ma teaches calligraphy at the center every week.
Ma said she puts herself in others" shoes. "Everyone will get older, including myself. At that time, I hope somebody will also lend me a hand."christian wristbands ukdebossed silicone braceletspersonalized heart braceletbreast cancer awareness wristbands bulkbuy rubber wristbands