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Detailed state program for dementia patients rolled out
  • By Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2017.09.18 16:19
  • Updated 2017.09.18 16:19
  • comments 0

The Moon Jae-in government has rolled out details of the state program for dementia patients on Monday, reaffirming that the government would take greater responsibility to care the elderly in the fast-aging Korean society.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced the detailed plan at COEX in southern Seoul, for building an integrated state support system -- ranging from prevention to early diagnosis to government consulting and support for medical services for dementia patients.

The ministry said the government would build 252 dementia care centers under the public health centers across the nation from December for those affected by the disease. The centers will offer one-on-one consultation for patients and their families. They will record consultation cases under a newly opening “registration and management system for seniors with dementia.”

Those with severe progression of the disease will be able to get short-term intensive treatment at dementia care hospitals, which will be expanded nationwide. Initially, the public nursing hospitals will install dementia clinics. Then, they will expand such clinics on a phased basis.

President Moon Jae-in speaks in a video message on Monday, saying “it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that seniors -- who have dedicated to the development of our country and society – can lead a healthy life with dignity.”

The government also plans to establish a medical payment system to help the dementia patients get treatments for dental and other disorders.

The state program also plans to lower the proportion of individuals’ medical bills for severe dementia patients from the current 20-60 percent to 10 percent from December.

The medical cost for using machines to assess and monitor cognitive impairments such as SNSB, CERAD-K and the MRI on those suspected of suffering dementia will get insurance coverage from the second half of this year, on a phased basis. The examination cost, currently around 1 million won ($910), is expected to go down to less than 400,000 won per person.

The state program also expands long-term nursing care services for dementia patients. To date, physically healthy patients with light dementia symptoms were exempt from those eligible for long-term care, because grades from 1 to 5 were given based on the physical health. From now own, the ministry will improve the grading system to include them all as those eligible for long-term care.

The dementia care patients will have additional caregivers and offer customized programs to retain physical function or cognition. The government plans to increase the number of day/night care facilities, which light dementia patients will mostly use, from the current nine. It will also expand the stay-in facilities for severe dementia patients from the current 22, on a phased basis until 2022.

To prevent dementia, more than 350 welfare centers for seniors nationwide will offer programs including arts, music, and gardening.

The state cognition assessment test, available for those over 66, will become more accurate under the new program. The government will change the current five-session initial test followed by an additional 15-session cognition impairment test to an initial 15-session cognition impartment test, the ministry said.

The government will also enhance research and development regarding dementia. The Health-Welfare Ministry and the Ministry of Science and ICT will set up a commission for R&D on dementia to devise up a 10-year plan and develop technologies to prevent and manage the disease, as well as treatments.

“The government will share the burden on dementia patients and their families, as dementia is no more an individual problem,” Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo said.

“We will fully prepare the system so that we don’t have to hear the tragic news that dementia was behind a family’s breakdown.”


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