It is always devastating to be suddenly struck by a debilitating disease. Much worse is if the name of the disease itself adds insult to injury.
This is why a centre dealing with the elderly is trying to find a new Chinese name for dementia, the loss of mental functions commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The Chinese name is insulting, denoting craziness and foolishness. The Jockey Club Centre for Positive Ageing has launched a competition to rename the disease in attempt to remove the stigma attached to the Chinese name.
A spokeswoman said the rising number of dementia patients in the city lent urgency to giving the disease a new Chinese designation that did not have negative undertones. The deadline for the renaming competition is July 15.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of false diagnoses for dementia has prompted a Chinese University researcher to publicise a diagnosis tool used in hospitals.
The tool kit, invented by the university's psychology professor Agnes Chan Sui-yin about 10 years ago, comprises a list of tests revolving around 16 Chinese characters. Findings from the tests can be used to identify whether an elderly patient is at risk of developing dementia.
'When diagnosed with dementia, many patients are already in the late stages of the disease. Early treatment involving memory training exercises are precluded because of late discovery,' Chan said.
She said it was very difficult to identify patients through daily observation by family members and friends. 'The act of simply forgetting to bring keys can be attributed to bad memory. When an elderly person forgets what keys are for, which is a clear sign of dementia, and seeks medical help, the disease is already in a late stage.'
The tool kit, which is adjusted according to a test subject's level of literacy and education, is aimed at identifying early signs of dementia. 'The tests can also differentiate between patients afflicted with different neurological disorders like schizophrenia and depression. Patients in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease, depression or schizophrenia will achieve corresponding scores in the tests.'
She said a lot of 'crackpot' diagnoses were available, which claimed to be able to check whether a person suffered from dementia.
The number of people globally with dementia and Alzheimer's disease is tipped to reach this number by 2030: 65.7m