1 in 10 over 65s in S. Korea have dementia; when can we find the cure?
Updated: 2021-10-26 07:56:28 KST
Dementia degrades a person's cognitive ability meaning that they can no longer recognize the time, place, and even the people that they used to know.
According to the National Institute of Dementia, the disease affects 830-thousand people in South Korea.
That's roughly 1 in 10 people aged 65 and above.
Having dementia is not just being forgetful rather than thinking "oh I forgot to have lunch" dementia patients don't even realize that they forgot to have lunch.
"Dementia is an acquired disease, which causes memory, language and judgmental abilities to deteriorate. Alzheimer's disease accounts for more than 70 percent of dementia cases, but there are other types, including vascular, alcoholic and Parkinson's dementia."
She added that it's important to know the reason for weaker cognitive and language abilities.
Because those with vascular dementia can recover if they lower their cholesterol and blood pressure.
But, Alzheimer's requires a different treatment.
As of now, there are five FDA-approved treatments.
Four of them alleviate the symptoms, but don't address the main cause.
So, the medication can help for about a year but becomes less effective over time.
The other treatment got conditional approval from the FDA in June, and treats the actual cause of Alzheimer's.
The drug developed by U.S. pharmaceutical company Biogen is the world's first to treat the cause of dementia, although its effectiveness is not yet fully proven.
South Korea is also working on a cure.
"We are supporting projects ranging from deriving clinical candidates to non-clinical, phase 1, and phase 2 clinical trials. As far as I know, there are more than three clinical trials that are underway after receiving approval from the country's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. All of them are to treat the cause. It's known that they are various causes and as there's only one treatment that's been approved by the FDA, there will be international competition."
Many facilities for older people have been closed recently due to COVID-19, and without social activities, the elderly are more prone to dementia.
"These are some of the main symptoms of dementia. Forgetting how to get back home or asking the same question over and over again. Pay close attention to parents and friends and visit the hospital if there are any signs.
Jang Tae-hyun, Arirang News."