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LCQ17: Dementia

     Following is a question by the Hon Tang Ka-piu and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (June 3):


     It is learnt that with ageing of the Hong Kong population, the number of dementia patients is rising gradually.  Some concern groups have pointed out that symptoms of dementia include memory loss, forgetfulness, impaired language ability and judgment, etc., and cases of persons with dementia going missing have happened frequently in recent years, causing distress to both the patients and their family members.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of cases in which persons aged 60 or above (elderly persons) went missing in each of the past five years, according to the records of government departments and the Hospital Authority; among those cases, of the respective numbers of those in which the missing persons were subsequently located, could not be located and were found dead, with a breakdown by whether or not the missing persons were dementia patients / suspected dementia patients;

(2) of the respective numbers of elderly persons diagnosed with dementia or suspected to be suffering from dementia who are currently living in the community, staying in hospitals and living in residential care homes, according to the estimation of the authorities and, among the elderly persons of the first two categories, of the respective numbers of those who are living alone; and

(3) of the measures in place to step up efforts in preventing elderly persons with dementia from wandering and losing their way; whether the authorities will encourage (e.g. by means of providing financial assistance) the family members of these patients to arrange for these patients to carry with them trackers and assistance-seeking devices equipped with positioning technology?



(1) The Police always attach great importance to cases of missing persons and work on every line of investigation when handling missing person reports.  For cases where a crime is suspected, they will be referred to the relevant Crime Formation for follow up action.

     The number of reported cases involving missing persons aged 60 or above in the past five years are set out below:

     Year     Reported cases involving missing
              persons aged 60 or above
     2010         1 022
     2011         985
     2012         1 059
     2013         1 044
     2014         1 040

     The Police do not keep record on the number of missing persons who are found dead when located.  Also, the Police do not maintain a breakdown of figures based on the medical record of the missing persons (including persons with dementia).

     The number of missing persons aged 60 or above located by the Police in the past five years are set out below:

     Year    Number of missing persons
             aged 60 or above located
     2010        977
     2011        947
     2012        1 020
     2013        1 003
     2014        990

     The above figures represent the number of missing persons located in the subject year who have attained 60 years of age at the time of report.  These cases are not necessarily reported in the subject year but may have been reported in an earlier year.

     The figures only represent the missing persons located by the Police.  They do not include cases in which the Police cannot establish contact with the missing persons but find no suspicion after investigation (e.g. when a missing person is found to act normal in CCTV footage after reported missing and his / her relative confirms his / her identity by viewing the CCTV record).

     According to the record of the Advanced Incident Reporting System of the Hospital Authority (HA), the number of missing patients (i.e. patients found missing from inpatient wards of HA with their cases reported to the Police) aged 60 or above is set out in Annex 1.

     HA does not have a breakdown of the number of missing patients by whether they are suffering from dementia.

     Subsidised residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) and day care centres/units for the elderly (DEs/DCUs) will seek assistance from the Police direct if their service users are found missing.  Hence, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) does not have statistics on service users of subsidised RCHEs and DEs/DCUs who have gone missing.

(2)  According to the statistics of HA, there were about 11 950 dementia patients being followed up by its psychiatric departments in 2014.  HA does not have statistics on the number of suspected cases and patients who are living alone.

     The SWD does not maintain statistics on whether the persons receiving services from subsidised RCHEs and DEs/DCUs are diagnosed with or suspected to be suffering from dementia.

(3)  The multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral teams of HA are committed to providing holistic and continuous healthcare services for patients with dementia and their carers.  Healthcare professionals will formulate individualised treatment plans for patients according to the severity of their conditions and provide medication, cognitive training and rehabilitation services according to the needs of each case.  HA also provides support and training for families and carers of elderly patients with dementia through different channels with a view to enhancing their understanding of the disease and the relevant caring skills.  This could help prevent patients from wandering off or getting lost.

     The use of trackers and assistance-seeking devices equipped with positioning technology may involve privacy issues.  HA will continue to keep in view the relevant technological development in order to meet patients' needs.

Ends/Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:34


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