An appraisal of public understanding of dementia across cultures
Keywords:dementia, public understanding, awareness, misconception
The 21st century has witnessed a dramatic increase in the population of older adults which can be credited to increasing life expectancy and declining fertility. Although this demographic change has also increased the number of people living with dementia, there are still lots of misconceptions about dementia. This study was aimed at assessing the public understanding of dementia across different cultures. Critical Interpretive Synthesis [CIS] was adopted to review 28 studies on cultural understanding of dementia. Findings showed a generally low awareness of dementia across cultures. The Chinese American immigrants, African-Americans, and Anglo-Europeans understand dementia more from the biomedical perspective. South Asians perceive it to be a result of an individual’s actions (Karma), and Chinese and Latino groups consider it as being crazy. The Yoruba tag it insanity while the Pakistanis, Native Americans, Xhosas, and Afrikaners attach religion and spirituality to it. This results in labelling people living with dementia as witches and linking it to the will of God. The misconceptions about dementia affect the attitude of people towards those living with dementia and often leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment. Recommendations such as education, advocacy, and creation of dementia café were made to improve awareness and understanding of dementia.