HANOI, April 26 (Xinhua) -- "At first I just planned to stay for a little while, but I became fond of the nursing home and so I've been here for more than a year," Vo Thi Thanh Xuan, 76, a retired teacher told Xinhua in Vietnam's capital city of Hanoi.
Xuan has three children and all of them have grown up and now have their own families. Xuan, whose husband died 10 years ago, felt concerned as her children, who have been working so hard, have to spend time looking after her.
"I moved to the nursing home in March 2016, and since then, I have come to love the living environment, the care of the staff and the friends who live around me," Xuan said, adding that she has made good friends with a widowed man next door.
According to Vietnam's General Department of Population and Family Planning, the number of people over 60 years old in Vietnam makes up some 10 percent of the country's population, which equals 9 million people.
It is forecast that by 2029, Vietnam will have some 16.5 million elderly people, accounting for 17 percent of the whole population.
In each out of the dozens of provinces nationwide, there are between one and three state-run care homes for the elderly. However, they merely take care of poor or abandoned old people.
In the suburb of Hanoi, the private-run Tuyet Thai Nursing Home is located in a sparsely populated area surrounded by a lot of green trees and lakes. The center has been running since 2012 and is taking care of more than 60 seniors, said Nguyen Thi Bach Tuyet, director of the Tuyet Thai nursing home.
On the spacious campus, an elderly man was returning to the nursing home after getting up early and going jogging. Phi Cong Thu is deceptively youthful for his age with the 82-year-old man telling Xinhua that some people may think children sending their parents to the care centers mean that they do not love or respect their parents, but that it's not true.
"It is not until I came here that I understood that the elderly are properly taken care of at centers such as this. We are helped with our daily routines like having baths, and going to the toilet. The staff are well-trained and they do their jobs with love, as if they are looking after their own parents or grandparents," said Thu.
Vietnamese people are particularly familiar with the idea of "Tu dai dong duong" (four generations under the same roof). In a traditional Vietnamese family, children and grandchildren will take care of the elderly, in both material and spiritual aspects.
However, the process of urbanization has led to an increase in the shift of employment from agriculture to industry and from rural to urban environments. It has made people increasingly busier, especially those of a working age.
As a result, the time available to care for their grandparents or parents is limited, said Tuyet.
To Hoang Son, 65, who sends his mother to the center, told Xinhua that no matter how hard he tried, he and his wife failed to find the time to be able to fully take care of his mother as they are both too busy with their jobs and their children are busy with school.
"My mother used to be very sad while staying at home with the home helper all day long, doing nothing but watching TV," said Son. "That's why I decided to bring my mother to the care center," he said.
"It was a 'real struggle' on the first day. My mother refused the idea of living in the care center. She insisted she would 'live and die in my own house,'" Son recalled.
"I was very patient and took her to the center to have a look at first, assuring her that if she did not like it, we would go back home immediately," said Son.
Now, things have changed and are far better than what Son could have expected. His mother started to get used to the nursing home after a month and now both her mental and physical conditions have improved greatly compared to the past.
"At first I was confused about what would be the best solution for my mother, but the appearance of the private nursing homes in Vietnam seems to fill a vacuum that Vietnamese society needs," said Son, adding that he is now very comfortable about his mother' situation in the facility.
According to a recent survey on the living quality of the elderly in private nursing homes carried out in Vietnam's southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City, as many as 84.8 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied with the health care services. Up to 79.5 percent of them said they felt satisfied with the care they were receiving from the staffers and with the new friendships they'd made at the centers.
However, there are two sides to every coin. Vu Thi Hong Hanh has just welcomed his father back home after spending time in a nursing home.
Despite the high fee of over 10-15 million Vietnamese dong (440-660 U.S. dollars) per month, Hanh was not convinced if the quality of care provided by the center is the same as advertised and he'd been suffering from a guilty conscience.
"I believe that bringing him home to give him a sense of family by seeing his children and grandchildren everyday will be better for him and I also feel more comfortable," said Hanh.