Many people are unaware of the difference between the problems associated with normal ageing and the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the Taiwan Catholic Foundation of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia said yesterday.
According to government statistics, there are about 170,000 to 190,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease in Taiwan, and the number is expected to grow to 620,000 in 2046, which would place Taiwan at the top of the world rankings, the foundation said.
The foundation launched an awareness campaign in 2003 with the help of the Ministry of the Interior and promoted the use of the Short Portable Mental State Questionnaire (SPMSQ) to help evaluate whether an elderly person has Alzheimer’s.
Chen Chun-yu (陳俊佑), director of social work at the foundation, said that families with elderly relatives should have them screened using two questionnaires — SPMSQ and AD8 — provided in the dementia awareness handbook published by the foundation.
The AD8 is an eight-item questionnaire designed to help identify people with early dementia.
Though there is no cure for dementia, “there are some good ways to lower the chance of developing the disease,” such as regular exercise, keeping stress under control and following a Mediterranean diet, Chen said.
“By Mediterranean, we mean eating lots of vegetables and fruits and a diet rich in fish, whole grains and olive oil. And avoid red meat as much as possible,” Chen said.
Families with an Alzheimer’s patient should take their caregiving capability into consideration when deciding about asking for extra help or placing a patient in a nursing home, Chen said.