An appraisal of public understanding of dementia across cultures


  • Prince C Ekoh University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Elizabeth O George University of Stavanger, Norway
  • Chukwuemeka Ejimakaraonye University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Uzoma O Okoye University of Nigeria, Nsukka


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.

Author Biographies

Prince C Ekoh, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Department of Social work

Elizabeth O George, University of Stavanger, Norway

2Department of Social work with families and children

Chukwuemeka Ejimakaraonye, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Department of Political science

Uzoma O Okoye, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Department of Social work




How to Cite

Ekoh, P. C., George, E. O., Ejimakaraonye, C., & Okoye, U. O. (2020). An appraisal of public understanding of dementia across cultures. Journal of Social Work in Developing Societies, 2(1). Retrieved from




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