While recent media attention towards the Korean Peninsula has focused on the rising tensions between North Korea and the world, South Korea is waging another war.  As highlighted in a recent New York Times article, South Korea has launched a “War on Dementia”.   According to the article, South Korea has “one of the world’s fastest-aging countries, with nearly 9 percent of its population over 65 already afflicted” by dementia.   As a result, the country “is training thousands of people, including children, as “dementia supporters,” to recognize symptoms and care for patients.”

The article also states that hundreds of neighborhood dementia diagnostic centers have been created. 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. It highlights that the government has even opened an “Aging-Friendly Comprehensive Experience Hall,” where the young can learn about Alzheimer’s and other types dementia and even simulate living with it themselves.

To finance these initiatives, “South Korea created a long-term-care insurance system, paid for with 6.6 percent increases in people’s national health insurance premiums. In 2009, about $1 billion of government and public insurance money was spent on dementia patients”.  These is certainly an impressive commitment,  yet “with the over-65 population jumping from 7 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2018 to 20 percent in 2026, dementia is straining the country, socially and economically.”

Share your thoughts on South Korea’s “War on Dementia” with IAHSA.  Is this a successful model that can be implemented in your community?  Are their additional steps that can be taken?

For more information:

The New York Times