Alzheimer’s disease is a world-wide health problem, and the
number of people suffering from it increases annually. It
is not only an elderly health problem; young people also get
the disease. While numerous public and private research organizations
are working on developing high-tech cures for Alzheimer's,
one doctor in Hong Kong has had good results with some very
In Hong Kong, about 70,000 patients suffer from Alzheimer’s
disease. Because government financial resources and manpower
are limited, Dr. Chi-sing Yu, a specialist in gerontology
developed an inexpensive healing method in 1995 to give patients
In an interview in Hong Kong’s Next Magazine, Dr. Yu described
the treatment he provided Alzheimer’s patients in an elderly
home. He had them play a traditional Chinese game, mahjong.
After six months, about two-thirds of the mahjong-playing-patients
had their diseases under control and some showed evidence
of improved intelligence. Ultimately, these results increased
their capacity for self-reliance.
In his interview, Yu indicated that playing mahjong improves
one’s ability in analysis, calculating, logic, and memory
as players are required to think and consider their next move.
He also stated that any game which requires the player to
think can help patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However,
mahjong games are not enough. To reach recovery, patients
must also take medications and do some simple exercises.
Dr. Yu stated that Alzheimer’s disease is not a cureless
disease. The sooner the patients cope with it, the better
chance they have to control it. Though the exact cause for
Alzheimer’s disease is still a mystery, Dr. Felix H. Chan,
a specialist in geriatrics, in a telephone interview, stated
that there are two main causes of Alzheimer’s disease, neuro-degeneration
disease (a factor of age) and genetics.
The first cause is age: The older one is, the higher one’s
risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. One in every 10 people
60 or more years old contracts it. In contrast, one in every
three people 80 or more years old contracts it. Most Alzheimer’s
patients are 65 or older. Occasionally, people suffer it in
their late 40s and early 50s.
The second cause is genetics: One is more likely to develop
Alzheimer’s disease if one has a close relative with Alzheimer’s
disease. According to Health.Com, “this could be due to genes
that make you more apt to have the illness, or to exposure
to something harmful in your shared surroundings.” Scientists
discover that chromosomes numbers 14, 19, and 21 are related
to this disease.