Last week the Consumers’ Foundation announced that the number of people suffering from dementia in Taiwan is increasing by 10,000 more every year. The number of people with the syndrome at the end of last year had already exceeded 190,000, and it is estimated that the number will reach 620,000 by 2046. What is most concerning, however, is that three out of four people with dementia have never been given a health exam to diagnose the condition. The foundation therefore recommends that the government take initiative in planning and enhancing its methods of informing the public.
Tang Li-yu, secretary-general of the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association (TADA), says that at present there are seven young people available to take care of each senior citizen, but by 2046 only one young person will be available to care for one senior. The Ministry of the Interior should handle the potential problem as soon as possible, including establishing a government agency specifically for dealing with seniors with dementia, she says.
According to the most recent estimates, the number of people aged 65 and younger with dementia is around 20,000, while the number with the syndrome aged 65 and older is approximately 170,000. Tang says that people typically assume the symptoms are merely a person’s memory getting worse because they are getting on in years, which is why 75 percent of people develop dementia before they have been given a health exam to diagnose the condition.
The risk of dementia begins after the age of 40. Tang says that some of the warning signs include memory degeneration affecting one’s everyday life and work, not being able to complete familiar tasks, difficulties using language to communicate, losing temporal and spatial awareness, developing poor judgment skills, problems with abstract thought, becoming disorganized, sudden changes in behavior and emotion and personality changes, as well as becoming less active and creative.
TADA says that preventing dementia should include the “four mores,” which are exercising more, stimulating your brain more, more social interaction, and eating more Mediterranean cuisine, by including more vegetables, fruits, grains, deep-sea fish and olive oil, all of which can help slow the onset of dementia, in one’s diet.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)