Home | News | Bad luck, witchcraft, God’s will? Dementia survey reveals global views

Bad luck, witchcraft, God’s will? Dementia survey reveals global views

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) released the results of the world’s largest dementia study last week and revealed that most people think dementia is a normal part of ageing.

The survey canvassed 70,000 people over 155 countries and highlighted a global lack of knowledge about dementia. ADI, the international federation of 100 Alzheimer’s associations and federations, with the London School of economics – which carried out analysis of the study – found that 62 per cent of healthcare practitioners also still think it is a normal part of ageing, rather than a neurodegenerative disorder.

More concerning was the statistic that 48 per cent of respondents believe that memory will never improve for a person with dementia, even with medical support, while one in four people think there is no way of preventing dementia.

Forty per cent of the public respondents believe that healthcare practitioners ignore people with dementia. And 50 per cent of healthcare practitioners said that colleagues do ignore those living with dementia and 33 per cent worried that they too would be ignored if they had dementia.

Ten per cent of respondents said that dementia is God’s will, while 2 per cent believe it is attributable to witchcraft.

One in five people surveyed believe that being diagnosed with dementia is just bad luck.

Under 40 per cent of respondents from the general public believe that there are adequate community services available for those living with dementia and their carers.

“Stigma is the single biggest barrier limiting people around the world from dramatically improving how they live with dementia,” said ADI’s chief executive Paola Barbarino. “The consequences of stigma are therefore incredibly important to understand.

“At the individual level, stigma can undermine life goals and reduce participation in meaningful life activities as well as lower levels of wellbeing and quality of life. At the societal level, structural stigma and discrimination can influence levels of funding allocated to care and support.”

Worldwide someone is diagnosed with dementia every three seconds and the disease costs US$1 trillion each year, a figure set to double by 2030.

The number of people living with dementia is forecast to more than triple, from over 50 million currently, to 152 million by 2050.

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