Emphasise capability, not disability: exploring public perceptions, facilitators and barriers to living well with dementia in Northern Ireland

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Abstract

Background: Improving public knowledge and understanding about dementia has been identified as a priority area by people living with the condition, researchers, educators, and policymakers for several years. Societies that have a better understanding of the condition are more likely to enable people living with dementia to enjoy a better quality of life. The aim of this study was to explore current public perceptions of dementia along with the facilitators and barriers to living well from the perspective of people living with the condition in Northern Ireland.
Methods: Four focus group interviews were conducted with a total of 20 people living with dementia across three Northern Irish Counties in June 2019. These interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Ethical approval was obtained for this study prior to data collection.
Findings: Following thematic analysis, three themes emerged in relation to barriers and facilitators to living well with dementia. These were: ‘Emphasis on Disability NOT Capability’, which highlighted societal misconceptions about the activities and modes of life which people with dementia could or could not do; ‘Normalise Dementia – We Don’t Want a Fool’s Pardon’, which focused on how the public could encourage people living with the condition to enjoy greater independence, and ‘Dementia isn’t a Death Sentence’, which considered how professionals, family members and friends treated the person after diagnosis.
Conclusions: Public perceptions about dementia have the potential to act as both facilitators and barriers to living well with dementia. People with dementia stated that they are more likely sustain wellbeing when they are valued and can maintain independence. On the contrary, poor public and professional attitudes to dementia had the potential to disempower people living with dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number525
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Volume20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 03 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Public Perception
  • Northern Ireland
  • Focus Groups
  • Qualitative Health Research
  • Dementia Awareness

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