Sun, Sep 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Dementia services to be brought to communities

CHANGE OF APPROACH:Dementia Alliance International chair Kate Swaffer, who has the disorder herself, said it was time to focus more on patients’ abilities and quality of life

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday said it is planning to set up 72 community dementia care centers in accordance with its policy document Taiwan Dementia Policy: A Framework for Prevention and Care 2.0.

The Taiwan Alzheimer Disease Association yesterday on the first day of World Alzheimer’s Month held its annual academic conference in Taipei, with Dementia Alliance International chairperson Kate Swaffer delivering a keynote speach.

According to alliance data, about 9.9 million people worldwide are diagnosed with dementia each year.

A study commissioned by the ministry between 2011 and 2013 said that more than 260,000 people in Taiwan have dementia.

The National Development Council has predicted that the number will continue to increase, doubling to about 550,000 people by 2036.

“As one of the estimated 50 billion people in the world living with dementia, my mission has become to ensure people with dementia are not told to go home and prepare to die, but are supported to live positively,” said Swaffer, who was diagnosed with the condition at age 49.

“It is imperative that we focus on the human rights of people with dementia and their families,” she said, adding that governments, healthcare practitioners and communities should not just provide care for people with dementia, but also help increase their quality of life and reduce stigma, shame and discrimination.

Citing her own experience of having her driver’s license revoked, and healthcare practitioners advising her to quit her job and prepare for long-term care at a specialized care center, Swaffer said that those who advised her might have had good intentions, but they showed a common bias, assuming that people with dementia cannot make decisions on their own.

Taiwan has made efforts to protect the rights of people with dementia and the ministry launched its dementia policy in December last year, but dementia policies must be made in consideration of patients’ abilities and rights, helping them live positively and contribute to the society, she said.

Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) said the Taiwan Dementia Policy 2.0 would reference the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to establish proper action plans.

The ministry is also planning to establish 72 dementia care centers so that people in early stages of dementia can receive care and counseling services in their communities, he said.

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