09/21/2012, 00.00
TAIWAN

Catholic Taiwanese Foundation in the fight against Alzheimer's

by Xin Yage
Taiwan launches a month dedicated to raising awareness about the disease and reduce its effects through a healthy diet, physical activity, memory exercises. Almost 50% of young people between 18 and 34 years are beginning to show signs memory loss. Competitions, theater workshops and singing for the elderly to encourage creativity.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Today marks the International Day for Alzheimer sufferers. In Taipei  the event is being marked with a "World Alzheimer's month", spanning the entire month of September. Embracing the initiative a Catholic foundation (天主教 失智 老人 基金会), is raising funds for the cure of the disease and promote prevention awareness. September 1, a charity march was held in Da an sen lin park (大 安森林 公园) in downtown Taipei.

Symptoms of the advanced stage of the disease include confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, speech difficulties, and long term memory loss. The decision to march in the Taipei park was not random: physical activity is indeed important for both physical and mental health as a prerequisite for a healthy old age. The Foundation has also developed its Facebook page app to enable young people to test their own memory. Statistics reveal that a quarter of those who are examined through the app have a memory capacity of less than 50% compared to normal. Surprising that the age of 60% of those who tested this app are between 18 and 34! The majority of young people do not believe they have memory problems, which is why the Taiwanese Catholic foundation to fight dementia believes that it is important to educate from an early age to healthy food, a balanced diet, physical activity and exercise in the use of one's memory.

The foundation also offers activities for the elderly. In recent weeks, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, it launched a nationwide drama and singing competition, to select the best three groups of elderly performers. A special jury selects winners according to the criteria of creativity, beauty and accuracy in the preparation of the presentation. Each group is given a period of five minutes to test their skills. In Taipei of the 40 groups that took part,  the first group to qualify was an Atayal aboriginal tribe, led by the grandmother of the village. Their traditional costume, dance and pleasant harmonies was a hit with both the public and the jury, helping them reach the final. Then there is another group of an old man, Mr. Hong (鋐 先生), who plays a dance with the Chinese fan (gong fu shan, 功夫 扇) while a group of young street dancers (jie wu街舞) preform in the background. Mr. Hong took part in the competition last year as a soloist, without much luck and was immediately eliminated. "But I was not discouraged," he says, "and when I saw these guys who were practicing in the park with their street dance every night, just as I was practicing the fan, I got the idea and asked them to collaborate . And the result is really not that bad! And we only had a month to prepare: we elders are not so shabby if we stay in shape. "

Tomorrow in Taichung qualifiers for the central region will be held and next week in the south in Kaohsiung. The finalists will compete in the grand finale at the end of the month in Taipei.

 

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