Dementia to affect 5% by 2061: study

HEAVY BURDEN::The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that dementia would affect 460,000 people by 2031, with that number increasing to 850,000 by 2061

By Wu Liang-yi  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jun 05, 2018 - Page 4

A study by the Ministry of Health and Welfare suggests there would be a 1 percent increase in the number of cases of dementia every five years in Taiwan, putting a heavier burden on care services.

The result of an epidemiological survey on dementia released by the ministry showed that the nation’s dementia population was about 270,000 people at the end of last year, with a prevalence of about 8 percent.

It forecast that in 20 years the prevalence would increase at a rate of 1 percent every five years, reaching more than 460,000 cases (about two in every 100 people) by 2031 and more than 850,000 cases (five in every 100 people) by 2061, and that the incidence rate would be about 36 new cases a day in the next 46 years.

While dementia patients often need care services, ministry data showed that only 6.2 percent were living in specialized care facilities, while 54.9 percent are being taken care of solely by family members, 3.7 percent by migrant caretakers, 3.2 percent by Taiwanese caretakers, 4.8 percent make use of in-home care services and 0.2 percent use daycare services.

To take care of family members with dementia, many people have no choice but to take early retirement, resign or accept their performance at work would be affected, which has a negative effect on the nation’s economic development and productivity, the ministry said.

The Long-term Care Services Program 2.0 launched by the ministry last year expanded the eligibility of care services to include people over 50 with dementia and the ministry has studied the number of dementia cases to evaluate the required facilities and services.

Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) said the ministry has formulated a 2018 to 2025 Taiwan Dementia Plan, which aims to increase rate of diagnosis of dementia, establish a registry, provide comprehensive services and, most importantly, increase public awareness about dementia to enhance prevention.

Far Eastern Memorial Hospital Division of Neurology head Yan Sui-hing (甄瑞興) said a study in the US has suggested that exercise and training the brain can slow the rate of cognitive decline and reduce the burden on caretakers.