Putting increasing pressure on the care system for the elderly, an eighth of China's population is over 60, when it is already not satisfying demand, state media reported.
The number of people above 60 reached 160 million at the end of last year, the Xinhua news agency said late Wednesday, citing Wang Suying, a senior official at the civil affairs ministry.
That is 12.3 percent of the country's total population of 1.3 billion.
Wang said China was facing a "grave trend" of an ageing population while the nation's care services for the elderly were "severely insufficient" and "far from meeting demand", according to Xinhua.
The country currently has only 2.5 million beds in rest homes, while an estimated eight million elderly were seeking accommodation in such facilities, the report said.
About 10 million nurses and specialists are needed to look after those who cannot take care of themselves, while care facilities for the aged had only 220,000 employees, 90 percent of whom were under-qualified, it said.
Ageing is a long-term trend affecting more and more of the world but China faces the unusual situation of growing old before it grows rich, officials have said.
The problem has become even more complicated as better nutrition and improved health care have helped people live longer lives, while birth control and changing cultural norms result in fewer young people.