The fourth instalment of the World News America series on Alzheimer's goes to South Korea, a country with the most rapidly ageing population in the world, as the BBC's John Sudworth reports.
More and more elderly couples are dealing with Alzheimer's
South Korea may not be the only place facing an explosion in the number of Alzheimer's sufferers, but it will have to learn the lessons faster than most.
Lee Byung Ray and Cho Sook Ja have been married for 50 years.
Alzheimer's disease has deprived Mrs Cho of her speech, her memory and her power to recognise faces.
In their apartment in Seoul, Mr Lee said he had only one wish: to outlive his wife.
"In Korea it used to be the tradition for children to look after their parents," he said.
"But society has changed and I want my children to be free of this burden, so I need to live as long as possible."
According to South Korean government figures, in the year 2000, 7% of the population were over the age of 65.
By 2019 it will have doubled.
The amount of spending on the elderly will leap from 18% to 50% of the healthcare budget.
And, as South Korea undergoes its rapid demographic shift, traditional social structures are being broken down.
Lee Sung Hee, president of the Korea Alzheimer's Association, says just when it is needed the most, a vital safety net is disappearing for the country's growing army of the elderly.
"Alzheimer's sufferers used to be cared for at home, by their extended family," she said.
Lee Byung Ray cares for his wife Cho Sook Ja
"But the Korean family structure is becoming more nuclear, women are pursuing their own careers and people are no longer able to look after their elderly relatives."
In the future, it seems there will be many more couples like Mr Lee and Mrs Cho.
But there is a problem for the state, too.
Put simply, at the same time as the falling birth rate means that the proportion of old people is increasing, the proportion of young, working tax-payers is falling.
So the government has had a rude awakening.
As the country prepares to face the growing cost of illnesses like Alzheimer's, it has little choice but to raise more revenue to pay for it.
From 1 July this year everyone's national health insurance payments went up by 4%.
The extra money raised will be used specifically to pay for the long-term care of the elderly, with a large proportion of the cash going towards the treatment of people with Alzheimer's disease.
The type of care that used to be done by individual families is having to be taken over by the state
Han Mun Deok, ministry of health
And as the state takes on the role of the extended family, there is a pressing need for more residential care homes.
So South Korea has been building at a rate of 100 new homes every year for the past decade.
Many more will be needed in the future: by 2020 there could be up to 700,000 Alzheimer's patients.
Han Mun Deok, from the ministry of health, says the rise in insurance premiums is part of a bigger strategy, with the setting up of a special commission tasked with preparing for the shift to an ageing society.
"The type of care that used to be done by individual families is having to be taken over by the state," he said.
"The increase in insurance payments will mean the burden on individuals will decrease, and those who were trapped into having to care for relatives will be free to work."
Tackling the projected rise in Alzheimer's cases is now a South Korean health priority.
But experts fear the government will be unable to respond fast enough.
They say that there is a shortage of trained health professionals with specialist knowledge of the illness.
And even with the increase in facilities, the provision of care may continue to fall short of what is needed.
• You can watch World News America's series on Alzheimer's weeknights on BBC America at 1900 and 2200 ET and on BBC World News at 0000 BST (for viewers outside the UK only).
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.