Fri, Apr 27, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Nation's elderly need proper care

By Lee Ming-been and Fu Tzu-ching 李明濱,傅慈菁

With the trend toward an aging population and fewer children, it has become increasingly common for senior citizens to care for each other. The problem is that as aging couples get weaker, they have difficulty looking after one another, and if one falls ill, the other will be at greater risk of suffering from dementia.

News of dementia-related incidents that the Taiwan Alzheimer's Disease Association (TADA) collects contains other incidents that should grab our attention, such as people getting lost. There is even one case of an old couple where both were suffering from dementia and the two got lost together seven times. Although both were eventually located by the police each time, the law does not allow for them to be forcefully institutionalized, even though nobody can guarantee that they will be found the next time they get lost.

A similar case involved an old senile couple who ventured out and ended up lost after their family neglected them and they ended up eating scraps of thrown away food.

These are important problems that we can not ignore. There was also an old man in northern Taiwan who, unable to find his way back home, wound up in central Taiwan. When police notified his wife, she said she was too old and frail to travel to Taichung to pick up her husband. In the end, the police put the man on a bus back home. Although he made it home safe, we hope that his family will begin to try and understand dementia and prevent him from getting lost again.

According to Taiwanese tradition, elderly relatives are cared for in the home. However, as Taiwan faces a rapidly changing population structure we should begin to promote community-based care. We hope that the government will take the initiative in establishing day care centers for the elderly and present a correct concept of elderly care to the public. Only by doing this can those suffering from dementia receive proper care when their children are working during the day. Such facilities can help prevent old people from getting lost and having accidents, and they can also provide proper activities to help the elderly keep a regular daily routine and decrease the burden on their family members.

Lee Ming-been is president of the Taiwan Alzheimer's Disease Association (TADA). Fu Tzu-ching is the publicist for TADA.

Translated by Daniel Cheng

This story has been viewed 2934 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top