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Medics help man with Alzheimer's 'seek' deceased wife

By Ma Chi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-10-13 16:21

For staff members at the No 2 People's Hospital in Hefei, Anhui province, it has become a daily routine to accompany Zheng Shouyun, an elderly man with Alzheimer's disease, to search for his deceased wife.

Zheng's wife, Wan Dahua, died of a heart attack at the hospital in May. She suffered severe anemia, pneumonia and heart disease before death.

However, Zheng Shouyun, an Alzheimer's patient, does not believe his wife has passed away, and since then, the 84-year-old visits the hospital to "look for" his wife almost every day.

The doctors and nurses of the hospital decided not to tell him the truth, and for the past five months, they have accompanied the elderly man to "seek" his wife whenever he has asked for their help.

Lu Hejuan is a nurse at the hyperbaric oxygen department of the hospital. Her office is at the entrance of the building where Zheng believes his wife still lives, so the man would go to the room to ask his wife's whereabouts each time he went to the hospital.

Whenever Zheng asked for Lu's help, she would stop doing her work and take him to "seek" his wife floor by floor and room by room, and eventually persuade him to go back home to "wait for messages".

Lu's fellow workers would also help Zheng to "look for" his wife whenever he turned to them.

Tong Chunxiang, head nurse at the department, said Zheng did not only go to their building, but many others to seek help. She asked her fellow workers to keep the secret.

Zheng's daughter told Beijing Youth Daily that her father showed symptoms of dementia in 2015 when he started forgetting what had just happened. His conditions have worsened since his wife's death, she said.

According to Alzheimer's Disease International, Alzheimer's affects about 6 percent of Chinese people aged 65 and older.

Zhu Qiugeng, a neurological physician at the Hefei No 2 People's Hospital, said Zheng's behavior is partly because he could not remember things that happened recently, and partly because the reality of his wife's death is unbearable for him.

Zhu said although Alzheimer's could not be cured, the symptoms could be mitigated with proper psychological therapy and care from family members.

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