Proposes a way to enjoy a 'healthy senior well life' based on theme of 'Alzheimer's and mental health'
Early discovery and treatment are crucial for Alzheimer's.
Needs to begin customized habitual activities to prevent Alzheimer's at the age of 50 to 60...Life value-consumption and value-investment.
[Consumerwide_ Eunmi Yang / Yohan Bok Reporter] It is not easy to expect to see a beautiful evening twilight on the building street in the center of Gangnamgu, Seoul. On my way home after work, which was earlier than usual, I was in a hurry to walk to a bus stop. Then, I noticed an old couple seeming to be in their twilight age by the bus stop from a distance. This couple was like a 'sunset glow' in my eyes. A long road with congested street signs and traffic right next to it, the image of a couple made a perfect picture with a calm glow.
The elderly gentleman with a fedora hat was holding tightly the hand of his lady wearing a small flower-pattern one-piece dress with a white bucket hat. Having this memorable image ahead of me, I was constantly watching over them all the way to the bus stop. By the time I got there, I could even listen to their small talk. The lady was in the middle of complaining about her daughter-in-law. The elderly gentleman was calming her with a smile on his face. At a glance, I observed she had Alzheimer's. I thought that her time with Alzheimer's had been cared for sincerely, which made her lovely even to cover the hardship of Alzheimer's.
As soon as a bus reached the bus stop, suddenly all the people who seemed to be waiting came out to ride on the bus. The elderly gentleman also rode on the bus, carefully assisting his lady along with him. After waiting for the couple riding on, I could get on as well. Where all these people came from in such a short time? I supposed that they might have been waiting at a distance feeling uncomfortable to have an elderly person with Alzheimer's, whose intonation is abnormally strong and the talk incomprehensible, right next to them.
■ How many people get Alzheimer's in our area?
As the elderly population increases in Korea, elderly people with Alzheimer's disease are rapidly increasing. There probably are more neighbourhoods with Alzheimer's than we imagine. Simply by checking the 'Missing notice for elderly people with Alzheimer's', which alarms a number of times a week, we can recognize there aren't a few neighbourhoods with Alzheimer's, though we may not notice. Referring to statistical data from the Central Alzheimer's Center, Alzheimer's rate for elderly people over 65 years old approached 10.31% in 2022. People over 65 years old are stated as 'old' in the administrative view. Nevertheless, people over mid-70 or 80 years seem to be right to be considered as elderly people in reality. Based on the data of elderly people over 80 years old, Alzheimer's patient rate has reached 59.85%. In other words, one of every two elderly people over 80 years old has Alzheimer's.
It could be surprising news for most young people. Korean citizens over 66 years old get a cognitive dysfunction examination through a national health checkup program biannually. This is the time where realistic screen tasks are practiced regarding Alzheimer's disease. However, citizens over 60 years old can get a Cognitive Impairment Screening Test(CIST) at the Alzheimer Relief Center, a public health center, for free because of the Korean government Alzheimer's Medical Examination Project. If they are defined as a possible patient for Mild Cognitive Impairment or Alzheimer's from the CIST, they can get Azhmer's Precision Test (Neuropsychological Test) additionally for free. Plus, when it's necessary, they have access to Diagnostic Test and Differential Test in cooperation with hospitals. Yet, most people in their early 60s do not consider themselves old, so they won't see the necessity of taking the Alzheimer's Precision Test either. For this reason, often people in their early 60s come up with their Alzheimer's disease at the time of severe progression, with a perplexed mind.
■ Then, what do we know about Alzheimer's?
Can Alzheimer's disease occur in young adults? Yes, it can. Recently, Alzheimer's patients with less than 65 years old are increasing. I suspect that will become a social issue soon. The record of Alzheimer's at an early age is often not applied in the public record. So I assume that there probably be many Alzheimer's patients at an early age. Some people might not even have heard of Alzheimer's at an early age. Countless people encounter closely Alzheimer's in their 50s and 60s as they hear unexpected Alzheimer's news of their parents and neighborhood, which creates big fear and worries.
Since long ago, adult diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, cancer, are well known to the public as well as a way to care for and prevent them. Health literacy training includes content about various diseases. However, Alzheimer's related contents aren't found. I felt that anything relevant to Alzheimer's was left to the Alzheimer's relief center in Korea. Nevertheless, people seem to refuse to check out the center because of the weight they perceive of Alzheimer's disease. We might not know about Alzheimer's while fearing it.
■ Would it be possible to grow old beyond Alzheimer's disease like the "old gentleman in the beautiful evening twilight and a lovely lady with Alzheimer's"?
I find that anyone can live happily with dignity along with their beloved ones, as long as these sweet scenes of 'small talk with holding hands together' continue. There aren't only Alzheimer's patients with aggressive tendencies, which might result in hardships and uncomfortableness for family and neighborhood. If a patient can be cared for intensively in the early stage of disease while developing good life routines under delicate care, her Alzheimer's symptoms have more possibility to progress gently. Hence, discovering disease at an early stage matters. A family needs to have a good knowledge about Alzheimer's and Alzheimer's prevention activities should be practiced in their 50s to 60s. If Alzheimer's is found now, the seed has been rooted for the last 7 to 10 years in one's brain. For this reason, I see that it is necessary to learn about Alzheimer's for people in their new-mid-age, and they have got to practice initiatively Alzheimer's prevention activities which suit their life style. This is the value-consumption which I believe is necessary for Senior Well-Life of ourselves. Anything we consume to prevent Alzheimer's, including money, time, learning, energy, is a value-investment and value-consumption for the second half-year of our life.
The writer, I, has been promoting the importance of Alzheimer's prevention activities while developing and operating Alzheimer's prevention cognitive activity training for people in their 70s to 90s in Korea for the last 7 years. As time went by, I have been trying to pass on the importance and necessity of Alzheimer's prevention even for people in their new-mid-age. However, she felt my voice was not heard enough regardless of an effort over a long period of time. Eventually, I was about to wrap up by publishing 'An absolute Senior common knowledge, from Alzheimer's to Well-life'. But then, Consumerwide gave me another path to deliver a story about Alzheimer's prevention for people in their new-mid-age. Through this opportunity, from now on, I am going to tell a story about 'Healthy Senior Well-life' based on Alzheimer's and mental health for the new-mid-aged to elderly people in Korea.