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Organization calls for dementia-friendly communities as cases rise

2012/04/13 14:45:39

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) Building more dementia-friendly communities in Taiwan is vital because more individuals are coming down with degenerative brain diseases as society ages, an organization said Friday, echoing a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Fifty years from today, one in every 25 Taiwanese people will be diagnosed with dementia, said Tang Li-yu, secretary-general of the Taiwan Alzheimer's Disease Association.

The alarming growth rate resembles figures published by the WHO earlier in the week, which estimated that the number of dementia cases globally will have tripled by 2050.

"It's an illness that can happen to anybody," said Tang at a press conference held to introduce a successful support model for both dementia patients and their families.

According to one estimate, there are more than 190,000 individuals in Taiwan with some form of dementia. Taiwan has a population of approximately 23 million.

To better serve these patients, Tang and her association argued that that more day-care centers should be established in communities.

Last year, former President Chen Shui-bian rented one of his properties in Taipei to the association for a nominal NT$2,000 (US$63) per month. It was later renovated into a care center for elderly dementia sufferers.

The one-story, five-bedroom house is maintained by both the patients and their family members, who shoulder only the monthly utility fees.

"The center has taken a lot of pressure off my back," said one woman surnamed Tang.

Practicing yoga while her 88-year-old husband sings karaoke, Tang said she comes to the center once a week to interact with the families of other patients.

"I feel so happy because I don't need to worry about him getting lost when I have fun," she said.

(By Nancy Liu)