Sun, Apr 21, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Association urges plan to handle Alzheimer’s disease

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association (TADA) urged the government to set up a national plan for the disease and join Alzheimer’s Disease International’s efforts in raising public awareness about dementia.

According to a recent survey conducted by the association, the dementia prevalence rate in Taiwan is estimated at 4.97 percent, or 130,000 people.

Another 3.17 percent are estimated to have “very mild dementia” and 16.04 percent are affected by mild cognitive impairment (MCI), also known as incipient dementia, according to the survey.

The prevalence rate might triple or even quadruple in the next 40 years due to the rapid aging of the population, said Henry Braodaty, the director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre at the University of New South Wales and one of the academics who had participated in the International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International held in Taipei earlier this month, said on Friday.

“It is critical for every country to have a national action plan [for Alzheimer’s]. The disease cannot be cured, but we can delay the onset. Studies have shown that delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by two years can reduce the prevalence by 20 percent; by delaying by five years, the prevalence can be reduced by 50 percent,” Braodaty said.

The survey also found a correlation between illiteracy and the incidence rate of dementia, with illiterate respondents twice more likely to have dementia than those who had received an education.

Those who drink tea or coffee, exercise regularly or engage in social activities are also statistically less likely to develop the disease, the survey shows.

TADA president and attending neurologist at National Taiwan University Hospital Chiu Ming-jang (邱銘章) encouraged people to stimulate their brain, exercise regularly, maintain an active social life, consume a healthy diet and avoid high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar to reduce the risk of developing the disease.

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