Mon, 18 Feb, 2019
     Position Statement    Renaming Campaign on Chinese name of Dementia as 「腦退化症」 

19 November 2010
Renaming Campaign on Chinese name of Dementia as 「腦退化症」

Our Association, The Hong Kong Psychogeriatric Association, is an expert body specialised in mental conditions of elderly.


The Hong Kong Psychogeriatric Association has noticed a recent campaign on renaming the Chinese name of Dementia as 「腦退化症」and a tendency to adopt the name as the official Chinese term of the disease entity. On behalf of the Association, I appreciate the effort of the organising committee of the Renaming Campaign to eliminate stigmatisation of dementia. The adoption of an accurate and non-stigmatising name is essential to promoting mental health literacy of the general public, and will lay the cornerstone to the acceptance and care of the people with dementia in the community.


In view of these practical implications, our Association has taken an extremely serious consideration of the proposed new Chinese name. After a thorough discussion within our Association, we have strong reservations  on the proposed name 「腦退化症」 for the following reasons.


Firstly, the name「腦退化症」 literally means “degeneration of the brain”, and does not reflect the nature and symptoms of dementia. Moreover, not all dementias are caused by degeneration of the brain. Studies overseas and in Hong Kong reveal that up to one third of all cases of dementia are due to vascular insults to the brain, and are not caused by cerebral degeneration. The adoption of the name「腦退化症」may mislead the public that all dementias are irreversibly degenerative, hence ignore the salience that certain causes of dementias are modifiable or even reversible. On the other hand, a number of degenerative brain diseases, for instance Parkinson’s Disease, may not result in dementia. Therefore, we opine that “腦退化症”is not an appropriate or  accurate description of dementia and may  convey an incorrect message to the general public.


Besides, the new Chinese name  is not consistent with the existing terms used in  Mainland China 「痴呆症」 or Taiwan 「失智症」. We suggest the adoption of a term that is more consistent with the names used in Mainland China and Taiwan to facilitate better communication about dementia care amongst the Chinese communities.


Last but not least, in the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM V) which will be published in 2 years’ time, the term “Major Cognitive Disorder” is likely to be used to replace “Dementia”. Our Association would strongly suggest to postpone the adoption of a new Chinese name for dementia until then so that the new name will be consistent with international terminology. We think that if we adopt the new name 「腦退化症」now and change the name again after 2 years, it will be very confusing for the public.


In conclusion, our Association’s recommendations on the renaming of the Chinese name of dementia are as follows

  1. We suggest to postpone the renaming campaign for two years until the publication of DSM V.
  2. We strongly request for the involvement of more professional bodies with expertise and experience in the field of dementia in the selection process of the most appropriate official Chinese name of dementia.

Yours truly,

Dr. Li Siu-wah, M.H.
Hong Kong Psychogeriatric Association













精神疾病診斷與統計手冊第五版將會於兩年內推出,在新修訂的手冊當中,”Major Cognitive Disorder”很可能會被採納為替代「痴呆症」的英文病名。就此,本會建議將痴呆症的正名活動延至精神疾病診斷與統計手冊第五版推出之後,統一痴呆症中英文正名,減低對公眾引起的混亂。



  1. 推遲痴呆症的正名活動至精神疾病診斷與統計手冊第五版推出之後。
  2. 痴呆症正名的遴選必須經過廣泛諮詢,匯集各個對痴呆症有專業知識或經驗團體的意見。