The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), in cooperation with the Association of Korean Oriental Medicine, will help prevent Alzheimer’s disease in senior citizens. The announcement comes as the need for health care for senior citizens continues to increase amid the current aging society.
In order to provide free health consultation for senior citizens, and to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and depression, the SMG, together with oriental medicine clinic, will implement a pilot project for improving the health of senior citizens using traditional Korean medicine, which is familiar to them. In this pilot project, ten autonomous districts (Jongno, Yongsan, Seongdong, Dongdaemun, Seongbuk, Gangbuk, Dobong, Nowon, Eungpyeong, and Dongjak-gu) and 150 oriental medicine clinics within the districts will provide support to improve the health of senior citizens.
The ratio of the elderly population of Seoul (65 years or more) is showing an annual increase, reaching 12.0% of the population of Seoul in 2014. It is expected to reach 14.6% in 2020, and 22.3% in 2030.
Population ratio of senior citizens
(Unit: %, Data: National Statistical Office)
※ Aging society → The progress of aging society: Japan 24 years, the U.S. 73 years, South Korea 18 years, Seoul 14 years
Notably, the population ratio of the super-aged (over 85 years old) is expected to show a significant increase, from 0.9% in 2014 to 2.1% in 2030 and 3.6% in 2040. The number of patients presumed to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease was 100,000 in 2012, but the number is estimated to increase to 150,000 by 2020, and 220,000 by 2030. Reflecting these predictions, the medical expenses of elder citizens who are over 65 years old have increased by 55.6% from 2004 to 2013, with medical expenses for Alzheimer’s disease and stroke (cerebrovascular disease) having increased particularly rapidly.
The SMG is planning to provide a specific program for each participant after performing a pre-screening and post-screening test (Alzheimer’s disease MMSE and depression GDS). Senior citizens who show symptoms of cognitive decline and defects (i.e. are at a high risk of dementia) or depression will begin an 8-week program including one-on-one lifestyle improvement education, acupuncture, oriental medicine injections, and other beneficial treatment programs. Ordinary senior citizens can participate in a 4-week program consisting of qigong exercise, dementia prevention program, recollection class, and other activities to help improve their mental health.
Senior citizens who would like to participate in the program can apply at public health centers in the ten autonomous districts subject to pilot project. The SMG will carry out the pilot project this year, and examine whether to expand the project after evaluating the results.