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每日跟讀#648: University students in Hualien provide free dementia care

慈科大設失智服務據點 服務設備媲美養生村

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日跟讀#648: University students in Hualien provide free dementia care

Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology in March this year established the Jui Chih Yi Academy for the Elderly, a community support center for dementia patients, located within the university’s campus. Students from the university’s Department of Nursing care for dementia sufferers as part of their practical studies, providing a standard of service and facilities normally found in upmarket care homes.


Director of the university’s Graduate Institute of Long-term Care, Sung Huei-chuan, says the academy has been approved by Hualien County Health Bureau as a community service center for dementia patients. Sung says the center’s opening hours are designed to dovetail with students’ class schedules, and dementia patients and their family members can use the service completely free of charge.


Currently the academy is providing care for nine elderly patients, all of whom suffer from degenerative dementia. The average age is 83, with the oldest patient 93 years old and the youngest 63 years old. Each patient has their own record book, which students use everyday to record their charge’s mental state, mood, and food and medicine intake. The student carers also monitor their patients’ willingness to participate in activities, level of cooperation and social interaction, so as to give family members peace of mind.


Sung says there are currently an estimated 4,000 dementia patients in Hualien County, however only approximately 1,000 have been diagnosed correctly. Hualien County Health Bureau has established 27 dementia service centers throughout the county, three of which are operated by the university. In addition to Jui Chih Yi Academy for the Elderly there is the Long Life Club located in Jian Township’s Fusing Village and the Juichih Care School in Sioulin Township’s Jiamin Community.


At the Jui Chih Yi Academy, a cognitive stimulation course is combined with stretching and physical exercises, aromatherapy, music therapy, robot pet therapy and horticultural therapy, in addition to other non-pharmacological treatments designed to provide elderly dementia patients with a rich and fulfilling life.


In April, Yang Hsiao-tan began to drop off her 92-year-old mother at the Jui Chih Yi Academy. Previously Yang, together with her elder sister, provided round-the-clock care for their mother. However their mother has a fairly introverted and shy personality, and they discovered that the attentive care provided by the teachers and students at the academy made her feel more secure.


One day, when Yang came to the academy at 5pm to pick up her mother she complained: Why have you come so early? Today her ability to look after herself on her own is much improved and she no longer needs to be accompanied throughout the day. This also means the daughters are able to take care of their own affairs, and can have a break from caring for their mother. The care provided by the academy has been a huge help, says Yang.


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