September 21 was marked to be the World Alzheimer's Day by the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) in 1994. This is the only day in a year that unites people with dementia and their family members across all countries of the world. In Taiwan, dementia is estimated to affect 270 thousand people at the end of 2017, and the number is escalating. Minister of Health and Welfare Shih-Chung Chen called on all Taiwan citizens to participate the World Alzheimer's Month activities in order to learn the risk reduction strategies, raise awareness, early detection and treatment, and maintain the best brain function and quality of life.
According to the result of the 2011 epidemiologic survey of dementia conducted by the Taiwan Alzheimer’s Disease Association and sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), and the population statistics from the Ministry of Interior Affairs, among 3,192,477 people aged 65 & over, there are 586,068 people (18.36%) with minimal cognitive impairment (MCI), 253,511 (7.94%) with dementia. People with dementia (PWD) are estimated to be 1 in 13 for people aged 65 & over, and 1 in 5 for people aged 80 & over.
MOHW pointed out that a myth about dementia is to regard dementia as a result of natural aging, and lost the opportunity of early treatment. Lack of knowledge of dementia may cause unknown fear, and lead to stigmatization and discrimination of PWD. Therefore, we are responsible to raise dementia awareness and knowledge in our society, and to improve people ability to recognize early signs of dementia for early diagnosis and treatment. Facing the escalation of dementia population, we need to take actions to reduce the risk of dementia. Protective strategies include mental stimulation, physical exercise, social activities, and Mediterranean diet. Preventive strategies include prevention and treatment of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, smoking cessation, head injury, and depression.
MOHW stated that an innovation in the government’s Long-term Care Program version 2.0 is to establish the Integrated Dementia Care Centers (IDCC). IDCC is responsible to assist people to get a diagnosis of dementia and for case management consultation, as well as public education about dementia literacy, construction of dementia friendly communities and public communication about dementia care. MOHW has targeted to raise dementia literacy in the future four years, and to adapt the major indicators of the World Health Organization global action plan on dementia. Dementia awareness activities throughout the country and information about the 20 IDCCs have been posted on the MOHW website for public access.
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