30-somethings vulnerable to dementia
By Yi Whan-woo
About 9 percent of patients suffering from illnesses such as early onset Alzheimer’s are in their 30s, a study showed Sunday.
The National Health Insurance Corp. said the number of patients in their 30s with such symptoms were 9,727, out of 112,000 people.
The study from data in 2010 showed that the patients with pre-senile diseases have been steadily rising since 2005, particularly among those in their 30s.
“It’s hard to say that the rise in numbers mean that young people are acquiring the disease more. The increase in the number of younger patients could simply indicate that more people are getting check-ups and more cases are being found compared to the past,” said Kim Hyun-chung, a doctor from the department of psychiatry at the National Medical Center.
“Pre-senile diseases are degenerative and are unlikely to be acquired by young people. Sometimes when young people show anxiety disorders or mood disorders, their memory seems to function poorly which can be seen as a symptom of senility.”
The elderly were still the most susceptible age group. From 2005 to 2010, those in the 75 to 84 age group who acquired the dementia causing diseases rose more than twofold, reaching 309,000. The 65 to 74 age group saw a 1.5-fold increase to 340,000.
The number of patients in their 40s and 50s were 220,000 in 2010, a 1.3-fold increase compared to 2005.
The rising susceptibility to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral infarctions caused an increase in medical expenses.
The overall expense was 2.93 trillion won in 2010, a 2.7-fold rise from 1.08 trillion won five years earlier.
The number of patients with senile diseases will continue to rise along with a growing number of senior citizens in the country, experts say.
“By 2026, more than one out of five citizens will be over 65 years old, and the number of patients will grow unless the government takes some precautionary measures,” said a health expert who declined to be named.
“In order to reduce the frequency and save medical expenses, it’s crucial to recognize symptoms in advance to delay the progress of the illness.”