Gwen Kao Shares Her Life Stories and Dementia Caring Skills on International Women’s Day Celebration Activity

  • Mrs. Gwen Kao hopes society can give more support to dementia patients and their carers

  • Gwen Kao shares with the audience her life's amusing anecdotes

  • A donation made to the Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer's Disease by Macau Alzheimer's Disease Association, Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau and Alumni Association of Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau and the Kiang Wu Nursing and Midwifery School of Macau

  • The interview attracts personnel from social services institutions, senior citizens and their carers

On 8 March 2019, in celebration of the International Women's Day, an interview, hosted by President Van Iat Kio of Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau, was given by Gwen Kao, wife of ‘Father of Fibre Optics’ and founder and Chair of the Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer's Disease Limited, on her life with Charles Kao and how life had changed after Kao was diagnosed to have had Alzheimer's Disease. Mrs. Gwen Kao, also the Honorary President of Macau Alzheimer's Disease Association, shared her experiences on how to deal with problems of a patient like Charles Kao. She also encouraged women to demonstrate their self-worth and learn to cope with pressure as a carer of a patient and called upon society to pay more attention to dementia patients and their family members and give them more support. 

Among all the guests present, KAM Kit Leng, Head of Senior Service Division of Social Work Bureau, MA Pui Wan, Vice-Chair of Macao Dementia Association, LAM In Nie, Chair of Macao Carers Association and Director of KWNC Board of Directors, LEONG Pou Heng, President of Alumni Association of KWNC & KWNMS, LOU I Wa, member of KWNC Board of Directors, LAU Sin Peng, member of Advisory Committee and XING Zhihong, KWNC Vice President attended the event. The interview was centred on the three aspects of "Struggle", "Family" and "Value".

In the interview, Mrs. Gwen Kao took us to a photographic journey back in time to meet Professor Charles Kao and Gwen in their youthful days, university life, romantic scenes, marriage, family, and after Professor Kao's diagnosis of dementia. She said that in the past, society was influenced by traditional values and there was gender inequality in women's career and marriage. Therefore, when she had her own family, she deliberately asked her son to do housework, her daughter to change the light bulb in order to educate them that they should learn gender equality through small things. Gwen also mentioned that they never had a domestic helper so she had to do all household chores by herself. Once asked by President Van how she managed to fight off the challenges in the face of pressure from life, family and career, especially when she learned that Professor Kao suffered from dementia. Gwen answered with a smile and said that she had been with Professor Kao for decades. They had had together so many wonderful memories that they were not only husband and wife, but also very good friends. When they had to make some decisions, he would always ask for her opinions.

Mrs. Gwen Kao pointed out that in those 'good' old days, society lacked knowledge support regarding dementia. The road to taking care of a family member with dementia was really bumpy. They discovered that Charles was suffering from dementia through the early signs. As the disease took its course, she experienced all the pressure and difficulties as a carer. Therefore, she suggested that carers should try hard to understand and care about the needs of dementia patients, treat them as children, especially give them smiles to relieve their anxieties. In addition, a carer should also learn to cope with his/her own pressure. She encouraged family members and friends of dementia patients to give more support so that carers can get a proper rest, which could help relieve their own stress. 

The event was also broadcast live on Facebook with a simultaneous QA session. Many participants hoped to learn more about the treatment process of Professor Kao's disease when Gwen expressed that the sooner the discovery, the more actively a patient could be undergoing the treatment thus delaying the degeneration of the brain. Moreover, cultivation of some new habits could also be a help to reduce the anxiety of a patient as Professor Charles Kao who tried painting and drawing to relax himself in the early stages of the disease.

Moreover, a Mobile Truck for Dementia Patients of the Foundation has been in operation since 2013. It has been reaching out to the elderly in community estates and conducting testing and referral services. Gwen hoped to support the community within her ability to raise the awareness of the disease in society and fight discrimination against the patients.

The Event was sponsored by Macau Alzheimer's Disease Association, Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau, Alumni Association of Kiang Wu Nursing College of Macau and the Hospital Kiang Wu Nursing and Midwifery School of Macau, and co-sponsored by Macao Carers Association. 

The Event attracted more than a hundred participants from all walks of life in Macao and beyond.