Japanese gov’t plans to reduce number of dementia patients

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TOKYO, May 15 (Xinhua) — The Japanese government is planning to reduce the number of people with dementia by setting quantifiable targets to lower the ratio of patients in their 70s, over a six-year period until 2025, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The government is hoping the initiative will help counter the rising social security costs involved with caring for sufferers and the scheme will involve the implementation of preventative measures and methods to delay the onset of dementia.

The government has, thus far, prioritized its resources in accommodating people with dementia and making provisions for them to live in society, but as the population continues to age here, a shift towards preventing and delaying the effects of the disease, will be another focus.

The government has estimated that the number of dementia sufferers will increase to between seven to eight million people, or 6 to 7 percent of the total population, by 2030.

More conservative estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecast the number of sufferers to reach 3.8 percent of the country’s population by 2037.

Even at the lower scale of estimates, the number of patients with dementia in Japan will still be the highest among the 35 OECD states, topping the 2.3 percent average forecast within the group.

Preventative measures such as team exercise lessons and learning courses, to be held at local community centers, are some of the means the government plans to utilize to help combat dementia in the elderly, as physical and cognitive exercise has been anecdotally shown to help prevent the onset of dementia.

In addition, the government will also shift its focus to investing more resources into commercial systems and products to help prevent the disease, as well as allocate resources for more medical research into dementia, which is known to impact cognition and memory.

Amid Japan’s ever-graying population and declining birthrate, the government has been outlining a number of measures to help stem or counter the ballooning social welfare costs attributed to the growing demographic crisis.

Estimates by Dai-ichi Life Research have revealed that people with dementia also have large asset holdings that will total around 215 trillion (1.96 trillion U.S. dollars) by 2030, compared with 143 trillion yen (1.30 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2018.

In light of this, criminal groups have been ramping up efforts to defraud the vulnerable population through face-to-face, online and telephone scams, according to the National Police Association.

But while the government seeks to tackle the myriad issues involved with the rising numbers of those with dementia, including a recent spike in traffic accidents, medical experts have said that overly focusing on medical care alone may not be the best solution as reliable pharmaceutical means to comprehensively treat the disease have yet to found.

They advocate for a combined approach of increased scientific research and therapeutic solutions to help tackle the disease.

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