More than one-third of elderly patients with severe dementia in Korea are living alone without family support, a report found Wednesday.
According to a research team at St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul, about 36 percent of a group of patients with severe cognitive impairment or with a score of 2 on the clinical dementia rating said they were on their own. The CDR is a scale that assesses the severity of dementia.
“Patients with a CDR score of 2 can only do simple housework. They are in the severe stage of dementia which requires help for them to keep themselves clean, take their belongings with them and dress themselves,” said lead author Yang Dong-won.
Yang and his team surveyed a total of 2,388 dementia patients registered in hospitals across the country from September 2005 to December 2010, and divided them into three groups based on their CDR scores.
The study found that more than 40 percent of patients in the early stage of dementia or patients with scores of 0.5 to 1 were also on their own, without the help of family.
Meanwhile, about 59 percent of respondents said they lived with their families and got help from a family member. They were supported mostly by their sons and daughters-in-law, followed by their spouses, and daughters and sons-in-law. Family members responsible for taking care of dementia patients were 53.5 years old on average, suggesting that many economically active people had given up working, the report said.
“(The government) has to provide various welfare services as many dementia patients are left alone, and must also expand support for caregivers at home to ease their burden and improve their quality of living,” Yang said.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org