Few diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2011, 12:00am


Early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease allows patients to spend more time at home before going into a care home and, in wealthy countries, saves around US$10,000 per patient, according to an international report.

But in Hong Kong, a 2007 study showed that just one in 10 victims of Alzheimer's disease were formally diagnosed with the condition. In most developed countries the rate of diagnosis is 50 per cent.

'It may be related to the Chinese mode of thinking, that old people losing their memory is a natural thing. Some try to avoid doctors as they're afraid of what they may learn from them. Some recognise the disease but think that it's incurable anyway,' said Dr Jimmy Wu Yee-ming, chairman of the Hong Kong Alzheimer's Disease Association. While there is no cure, early treatment can delay deterioration, Wu said.

The association has been working with the Hong Kong Medical Association since last year to train general doctors to identify patients in the early stages of the disease, Wu said.

At an event yesterday to raise awareness for World Alzheimer's Day this Wednesday, the association and the Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer's Disease suggested 'six Chinese arts' as a framework for activities care-givers could use to help patients relieve their symptoms.

The 'six arts' include music, calligraphy, archery, charioteering, rites and mathematics. They can be interpreted to mean physical or mental exercise, art or even spending time socialising, which can help patients.

The number of patients worldwide with Alzheimer's, estimated at 36 million two years ago, is predicted to reach 66 million in 2030.