In China, there are only about 300 qualified physicians to treat more than 9 million dementia sufferers. The shortage is overwhelming families and threatening resources from an already stretched welfare system as the country ages.
When 71-year-old Shi Anquan chops firewood or visits the market in his northern China village, his wife Yuhua, also 71, plods quietly behind. Shi, a farmer, has given up tilling the land to devote himself full time to his wife’s care, reminding her to bathe and change her socks. The village’s single nursing home won’t take patients with mental disease. The nearest hospital doesn’t have dementia specialists. Shi must travel with his wife to visit doctors in Beijing, a three-hour trip each way with two bus changes.