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South Korea's War on Dementia is Something U.S. Should Emulate

Posted Jan 20 2011 9:00am
The New York Times has reported that South Korea is training thousands of adults and children to become “dementia supporters” as part of the country's recently launched “War on Dementia.”

These supporters are taught to recognize the symptoms of dementia and techniques for comforting those who are afflicted. Even kids between the ages of 11 and 13 can participate in the government's dementia simulation exercises and attend classes to learn more about the disease. Then, they are taught to visit nursing homes and give residents therapeutic hand massages.

Hundreds of neighborhood dementia diagnostic centers have been created as well.  Nursing homes have nearly tripled since 2008. Other dementia programs, providing day care and home care, have increased fivefold since 2008, to nearly 20,000.

A government dementia database allows families to register relatives and receive iron-on identification numbers. Citizens encountering wanderers with dementia report their numbers to officials, who contact families.

To finance this, South Korea created a long-term-care insurance system, paid for with 6.6 percent increases in people’s national health insurance premiums. The over-65 population has will jump from 7 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2018 to 20 percent in 2026.

Here I think is a country with their priorities straight. They have recognized a huge issue, funded it and involved youth. Kudos to Korea and the hope we can follow suit in some way.
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