Alzheimer’s in South Korea

Pam Belluck offers a South Korea story that’s not all about the confrontation with the DPRK:

South Korea is training thousands of people, including children, as “dementia supporters,” to recognize symptoms and care for patients. The 11- to 13-year-olds, for instance, were in the government’s “Aging-Friendly Comprehensive Experience Hall” outside Seoul. Besides the aging simulation exercise, they viewed a PowerPoint presentation defining dementia and were trained, in the hall’s Dementia Experience Center, to perform hand massage in nursing homes.

“ ‘What did I do with my phone? It’s in the refrigerator,’ ” said one instructor, explaining memory loss. “Have you seen someone like that? They may go missing and die on the street.”

As is often the case, I think too much of the discussion in the United States about population aging is about the purely budgetary aspects of it. More elderly people plus a commitment to give money to elderly people = higher taxes or benefit cuts. True enough, but the harder questions concern real resources. More people with the distinctive problems of the elderly, and more need to find better ways of coping with them.