Wed, Sep 21, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Fingerprint people suffering dementia: Alzheimer’s activist

A SERIOUS PROBLEM:Activist Tang Li-yu said an aging population means there will be a growing number of people with degenerative brain diseases

Staff Writer, with CNA

Relatives of people diagnosed with dementia were urged to have their loved ones’ fingerprints taken at their nearest police station to make it easier to find them if they get lost.

Having their fingerprints stored on the police database can help officers bring dementia sufferers home more efficiently, said Tang Li-yu (湯麗玉), secretary-general of the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association.

The method works better than using a bracelet or necklace because those with the affliction might reject wearing them, she added.

Tang said that, with the population aging, there will be a growing number of people suffering from degenerative brain diseases, whose major symptoms include memory loss and becoming disorientated and lost.

“We need to seriously look at dementia and its related problems, such as people wandering off and getting lost, because someday we might be the ones personally involved,” she said.

Tang, an active promoter of care for those suffering from dementia, said society needs to show more sympathy and support for those who suffer from degenerative brain diseases.

“I once jumped out of my car and walked in the middle of busy traffic to guide an 88-year-old woman to the sidewalk because no one took the initiative to lend a helping hand,” she said.

Besides holding special courses for the public to learn more about dementia and its symptoms, Tang said the association is cooperating with stores and restaurants to help take missing people home.

“We are designing a dementia-friendly sticker for shops that are willing to offer the elderly assistance,” she said, adding that the project would be launched soon.

“There is no shame in suffering from dementia,” said Wang Fu Yueh-li, whose 87-year-old husband was diagnosed with dementia a year ago.

Wang said she would like people to treat those with dementia like normal people, adding that their only problem is that they are more forgetful than other people and sometimes more irritable.

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